Families Can Apply For Open Choice Program, Magnets Until Monday
By Vanessa de la Torre
January 21, 2012
The deadline for families to apply for the state's Open Choice program and seats in interdistrict magnet schools has been extended to Monday.
The Sheff plaintiffs had sought a 10-day extension from the original Friday date, mainly because of potential confusion for parents over a separate Jan. 31 deadline for a different school choice program in Hartford, said Martha Stone, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the Sheff vs. O'Neill desegregation case.
Instead of extending the Open Choice deadline until Jan. 30, the state Department of Education allowed an extension to Monday, Jan. 23.
"The bottom line, we want to accurately measure demand and reach our goals," department spokesman Mark Linabury said Friday. "So this is fitting."
As of Wednesday, at least 4,212 Hartford students had applied for the state lottery, according to figures from the Greater Hartford Regional School Choice Office. By October 2012, the state can meet the Sheff terms if 80 percent of Hartford students are attending a school of their choice, or if at least 41 percent of Hartford minority students are enrolled in integrated schools.
Stone encouraged families to apply for either Open Choice or a minimum of three magnet schools.
"There are still hundreds of parents who haven't sent in applications," Stone said.
Under Open Choice, created as part of the Sheff court agreement, city students can seek a spot in a suburban classroom, while suburban public school students can apply to attend Hartford schools.
The state also offers interdistrict magnet schools -- such as Annie Fisher, Noah Webster MicroSociety and the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in the Hartford school system -- that must include a mix of city and suburban students.
Among the magnet schools operated by the Capitol Region Education Council are the Metropolitan Learning Center in Bloomfield, the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and the Montessori Magnet School in Hartford.
A lottery determines which students are accepted to the schools for the 2012-13 year. The state's choice website is http://www.choiceeducation.org/ and includes an online application.
Parents can also mail or hand-deliver their application to RSCO, 165 Capitol Ave., Room 270, Hartford, CT 06106. Applications must be postmarked by Monday.
City families still have until Jan. 31 to apply for Hartford's choice program for its neighborhood schools, such as Parkville Community School, Wish, the Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver, and High School, Inc.
Parents can apply online at http://www.hpschoice.org/.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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