Loss Of State Funding Might End Programs At Regional Magnets
June 18, 2005
By ROBERT A. FRAHM And MIKE SWIFT, Courant Staff Writers
At least a half-dozen summer school programs in the Hartford
region failed to win state funding this year, jeopardizing classes
for more than 1,000 children, officials said Friday.
The loss of funding threatens programs that have run for several
years at regional magnet schools operated by the Capitol Region
Although officials said there is still hope that the state could
find the money to keep summer classrooms open, they are preparing
to cancel classes, said Bruce Douglas, the council's executive
"We were completely caught by surprise," Douglas said. "Right
now, there is very little time to react."
Officials at the Greater Hartford
Academy of Mathematics and Science already have begun telling
teachers that a summer science program will be canceled. The "Frontiers in Science" program
was to have begun July 5 for about 250 students at the Learning
Corridor campus in Hartford. Educators had already assembled a
staff, ordered supplies and begun to fashion a curriculum.
Unhappy parents such as Rebecca Jablonski of Hartford, whose two
sons were planning to attend summer science classes at the Learning
Corridor, learned only in the middle of this week that those classes
were in doubt. Jablonski said Friday that she had been scrambling
to find an alternative, but that the late notice made it impossible
to find a recreational or educational substitute.
"There is no alternative," she said. "There
doesn't seem to be anything for the kids to do. This is an educational
program, which makes it doubly important."
Much of what bothers parents about the funding crisis is the timing,
said Roger Martin of Wethersfield, who only learned Friday afternoon
that his 12-year-old daughter Nicole might not be able to attend
the science classes at the Learning Corridor. Martin said families
like his schedule their summer plans around summer school.
"What is everybody going to do? It's not even enough time
to send in an application for another summer school program in
Wethersfield, or in the surrounding towns. Those classes are probably
full," Martin said.
Douglas said that the education
council has appealed to the state Department of Education and
the Office of Policy and Management, and he said Friday that
he was "pretty optimistic" that
the state would be able to find money. "It's a fluid situation," he
Gov. M. Jodi Rell's budget chief,
Robert Genuario, agreed that the state might be able to help. "We are cautiously optimistic
we can solve the problem, but it might take a few days," Genuario
Even if the funding impasse
is not fixed, the education council would still keep classes
open for its most educationally needy students, Douglas said. "That's our responsibility," he
said. "We would never walk away from our students."
About 50 percent of the students in the Frontiers in Science program
are from Hartford, with the remainder coming from other area towns.
The summer classes have operated under the state's Interdistrict
Grant program, which funds efforts to bring together students from
different towns in racially integrated school programs.
The funding problem stemmed
from a different interpretation of whether state law allows use
of the interdistrict grant money to fund programs in magnet schools. "Different folks are reading
the statute a little differently," Genuario said. The legislature
might have to take up the issue in its special session next week
to clean up the interpretation, he said.
The applications from several regional magnet schools did not
meet standards this year in the competition for the state grants,
said Dudley Williams, an official in the state Department of Education's
Office of Educational Equity.
In addition to the Learning Corridor science program, others that
lost funding include summer programs at the Metropolitan Learning
Center, the Montessori Magnet School, Two Rivers Magnet School,
the University of Hartford Multiple Intelligences Magnet School
and the East Hartford/Glastonbury Magnet School. Funding also was
denied for summer classes for about 400 students in a school choice
program that allows Hartford schoolchildren to attend suburban
For both teachers and parents who had been planning on the Learning
Corridor classes, the sudden uncertainty about summer school was
more than a little frustrating.
"To think at this late date the funding has been cut is very
disturbing to me," said Susan Fennelly, a Wethersfield High
School physics teacher who has worked in the program. "There
is such a need for these kids. ... The academy is such a fantastic
facility, and now it's going to be left empty? It just makes no
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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