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    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    Family that ran former Conn. school that closed may be owed $241K, Big List shows

    The Kolburne School finally closed in 2013, because none of Jeane Weinstein's children wanted to stay in education.

    The school for children with special needs was founded in Norwalk in 1947 moving in 1965 to New Marlborough, Mass. All of Weinstein's children essentially grew up on the grounds.

    "It was like a mansion, a large stone mansion," Jonathan Weinstein said. "It had a total of 14 acres with buildings on the grounds, which we used as classrooms. The big stone mansion itself was the dormitory and there were some classrooms in there as well."

    But Jeane Weinstein, who had founded the school with her father, Luma Kolburne, died in 2016, three years after the school closed. "None of us really wanted to run the business itself," Jonathan Weinstein said.

    None of her children thought much about the school since then, beyond reminiscing about their youth.

    Until, that is, they learned of $241,000 being held by the Connecticut state treasurer on the school's behalf — money they could theoretically claim.

    The asset, totaling $241,352.06 had been on the state's list of unclaimed property, referred to as "the Big List," a database of assets turned over to the state treasurer. Each asset is money residents and organizations are owed that, for whatever reason, did not get deposited. By law, that money is held by the state treasurer until it is claimed.

    Most of the assets are small: A few cents or a few dollars. Some are slightly larger, perhaps $1,000 but a very few are significant amounts, such as the $241,000 held by the state on behalf of the Kolburne School.

    Tyler Van Buren, spokesperson for the state treasurer, said, "the state has an obligation to return all property that a rightful owner claims, with no time limit for them to do so."

    "In this example, if there is an entity that exists with the legal authority to claim ownership of those funds, they would have to provide that documentation as part of the claims process," he said before the Weinstein family heard of the asset. "Given how long ago the funds were turned over to the state, it is possible — likely, even — that they will never be claimed."

    It's not uncommon for assets to remain in the state's hands for a long time.

    "This is often true on the individual level as well if someone passes away with no living relatives, no will or no beneficiary listed on an account," Van Buren said. "Regardless, the obligation for the state to return the property never lapses."

    That's not to say older assets are never claimed. "There have certainly been examples of decades-old property being discovered and returned over the years," Van Buren said. "Folks here have some amazing stories."

    Robin Mallory, Jeane Weinstein's only daughter, was silent for a moment when CT Insider reached her by phone and told her about the money.

    "How much?" she said, and then, "Wowee."

    Luma Kolburne, known as "Lou," had been headmaster of a school for children with special needs located in Westchester County, called Bailey Hall.

    "He worked with those kids for many years. Ends up, the school closed, and some of my grandfather's family said, 'Lou, you're so good with these kids, why don't you open up your school? You're perfectly capable of doing this, you know what you're doing,'" Jonathan Weinstein said of his grandfather. "So he opened up the Kolburne School in Connecticut, and that's where we lived. We grew up there."

    When Jeane Kolburne married special education teacher Sydney Weinstein, he too started working at the school, as did all of their children over the years.

    "My first job was at Kolburne School, and I worked myself up from childcare worker to program director. I spent about 30 years there," Randy Weinstein said. "We all did. We all at some point worked at the school."

    The family sold the property in the late 1960s and moved the school to Massachusetts where they found space for a gymnasium among other improvements.

    "We wanted to expand and that's why my family moved up to the Berkshires," Jonathan Weinstein said.

    The original mansion that housed the school is still there, though it's long abandoned. The property on West Rocks Road, though, is home to the Winston Academy, also a school for students with special needs.

    None of Jeane and Sydney Weinstein's children could think of why $241,000 would be just waiting, unclaimed, in the state's hands, but they plan to try and claim it.

    Randy Weinstein had a rare book business until he retired. Jonathan Weinstein works as a nurse. Mallory works with dogs. "We each make a living, but none of us are super wealthy," Jonathan Weinstein said.

    "Honestly, I have no idea why that money is sitting there," Randy Weinstein said.

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