A proposal that would allow towns to issue bonds to pay for college scholarships for its public school students will be aired at the Hartford Public Library on April 9.
The legislation is patterned after a program operating in Kalamazoo, Mich., which has been credited with increasing school enrollment and boosting high school graduation rates since it began in 2006.
State Rep. Kelvin Roldan, D-Hartford, who introduced the legislation this year, believes the scholarship funds will help address declining enrollment and graduation rates in Connecticut and build a reliable, educated work force.
Larger cities like Hartford, where only 29 percent of high school freshmen go on to graduate, have been looking for ways to keep children in school.
In Kalamazoo, student enrollment in public schools has increased 11 percent in the past two years after many years of decline. There was a 45 percent rise in the high school graduation rate for African American students and a 16 percent increase in graduates overall. Home sales rose 6 percent and home prices rose 3.6 percent, according to information provided by Roldan.
The Connecticut program would offer scholarships to any student who resides in a district with a fund, has attended a local school for at least four years and graduates from high school. The students must enroll in a Connecticut university or community college and maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or higher. The scholarships range from a minimum of 65 percent to 100 percent of tuition costs, depending on the consecutive years a student has attended local schools.
Connecticut is expected to draw a larger percentage of its work force from urban centers, Roldan said. It is important, therefore, that the next generation of workers be given the education and training they need to succeed, he said.
"We have to find a way to prepare this work force and we must plan ahead to make sure Connecticut stays competitive," Roldan said.
Roldan will be one of the library's featured panelists. The others are Rosanne Druckman of the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education; Pamela Richmond of the Hartford Board of Education; and David Medina, an editorial writer for The Courant.
The program is free but registration is required and space is limited. Those interested are encouraged to call Jennifer Cassidy at 860-522-4888, Ext. 6106, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org; or call Richard Frieder, 860-695-6365, or e-mail him at email@example.com. More information about the legislation can also be obtained by going to www.hartfordinfo.org and searching for "ct promise." The library is at 500 Main St.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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