Legislature To Decide How Much Money To Allocate For Suburban Students Going To Hartford Magnet Schools
October 02, 2009
HARTFORD — - Administrators and parents are bracing themselves for bad news as the legislature finalizes its funding commitment to Hartford's host magnet schools.
At issue is whether the legislature will approve a request from the state Department of Education and Hartford schools to allocate $13,054 for every suburban student who attends Hartford's host magnet schools, or a lower figure that could be as much as $1,600 less than what was approved in the budget passed in August.
State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, co-chairman of the education committee, said Thursday that the final figure for the allocation has not been determined, but said "$13,054 is not going to happen."
Fleischmann said that based on data he received from Hartford schools, the final number should be somewhere between $11,500 and $12,500 per student, and that the $13,054 figure amounted to excessive administrative costs that the state is unwilling to pay for.
"The target might move, but not by much," he said.
Districtwide, the impact of cutting $1,600 from the previously approved funding level would result in about $3.5 million in lost revenue, said Christopher Leone, director of the district's Regional School Choice Office.
The realization that the final number could be significantly lower prompted the parent-teacher organization at the Classical Magnet School in Hartford to organize a protest outside the Capitol Thursday.
Classical Magnet Principal Tim Sullivan said that he would have to cut $500,000 from the school's budget in response to an $11,500 per-pupil funding level.
"We'll have to lop off a program," he said referring to the school's extended day after-school program, which costs about $550,000 to operate. Funding at the $12,500 level, Sullivan said, would require a $190,000 reduction in textbooks and other instructional supplies.
Fleischmann said the funding bill that is expected to be approved today includes language that provides additional appropriations, if they are deemed necessary, up to the amount requested by the State Board of Education and Hartford.
"It's important when you are operating with some uncertainty to leave yourself with an escape valve," he said. "I would be surprised by and opposed to any attempts to remove it."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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