Web Sites, Documents and Articles >> Hartford Courant News Articles >

Bills Reflect Education Priorities

April 9, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer

If the General Assembly approves bills that the education committee signed off on Friday, there will be more money for early childhood education, magnet schools and school lunches, and charter schools will be allowed to admit more students.

Under another proposed bill, the state would also pick up a higher percentage of school construction for all districts that designate at least 10 percent of their budgets for school maintenance.

Between bills passed Wednesday and Friday, magnet school legislation is facing a major overhaul.

Measures in separate bills would require both districts that participate in a magnet school - and those that don't - to send any student who wishes to go as long as there is space available. Students who live in a district that does not participate in a magnet school must wait until after the lottery to see if any seats are left unfilled. To ensure that the magnet schools get paid, the state would subtract the students' tuition from the state aid that goes to the town and send it to the magnet school, said State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, co-chairman of the committee

The bill was written in response to the plight of a South Windsor mother, who tried desperately to get her son into the Greater Academy of Math & Science in Hartford. South Windsor does not participate in the school and there were no vacancies for suburban students, although the mother said she was attempting to get her son into a vacancy reserved for a city student.

"No local board should be able to say `no - you're not allowed to go to a magnet school'," said state Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, co-chairman of the committee.

The bills also increase state-paid tuition to magnet schools and help magnet schools run by regional education service centers, such as those at the Learning Corridor, to pass revenue shortfalls on to sending districts. It works this way: Each July a service center, such as Capitol Region Education Council, would calculate the per pupil expenditure of each student and subtract the per pupil amount paid by the state. The rest of the cost would then get billed to the sending districts as long as the amount does not exceed the sending district's average pupil cost for the previous year.

The bill goes on to prohibit sending towns from pulling out of the magnet schools because of costs.

"No participating district may withdraw its financial support from an interdistrict magnet school because such district determines financial support calculated [this way] is too costly," the bill reads.

Republicans on the committee objected, but Fleischmann told them to take their complaints to Gov. M. Jodi Rell because the proposal and the language is hers.

Gaffey spoke passionately about the myriad reforms to magnet school legislation, saying they are in the spirit of the Sheff vs. O'Neill court order to desegregate Hartford's schools.

Fleischmann said he was most pleased by the bills that increase funding for early childhood education. "One of the best investments that we as education policy makers can make is the investment in early childhood education," Fleischmann said.

Less than an hour after the committee convened, Rell issued a press release praising the committee for the early childhood initiative. "This legislation will bring to life the plan I proposed in my budget address. It will create the opportunity for 1,000 youngsters to attend innovative early childhood education programs right in their communities. The legislation also provides for oversight and standards that will make certain that the investment we make in our children produces strong results."

State Education Commissioner Betty J. Sternberg's proposal to buy laptops for all freshmen and sophomores didn't make it out of committee.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?