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Manchester, Bloomfield Students Allowed To Go To Hartford Magnet Schools


August 04, 2009

HARTFORD - Hoping to end an impasse that has left some students dangling, state Education Commissioner Mark K. McQuillan Monday ordered Hartford school officials to enroll students from Manchester and Bloomfield in the city's host magnet schools — and told the sending districts to pay the tuition they were withholding.

Hartford had accepted the students from Manchester and Bloomfield, but later told them that if their home districts didn't pay $4,600 tuition for each student, they would have to attend school in their home districts, or seek alternatives.

Manchester currently sends 233 students to 10 city magnet schools. It sought to enroll 41 additional students this year, but the city refused to allow them to attend after Manchester refused to pay their tuition. Bloomfield, which has more than 200 students in city magnet schools, sought to enroll 25 new students, but it, too, had declined to pay their tuition.

Hartford sought the $4,600 per student to close a gap between what the city receives from the state and what it says it costs to educate the out-of-district students.

With schools scheduled to open at the end of the month and some families still uncertain about where their children would go, McQuillan stepped in and sent letters to superintendents in all three communities to end the dispute.

"I just can't let the parents just continue in this ... uncertainty any longer," McQuillan said.

McQuillan said he had hoped the legislature would step in and provide extra funding to help offset the difference. But with the governor and legislature still at odds over the state budget, he said he had to speak out for the students caught in the middle.

"The feeling is that somehow, without a budget, something has to happen and someone has to be responsible for the students," he said.

Manchester parent Claudia Mosley said she was relieved by the commissioner's directive. She got the phone call while she was shopping with her son, Christopher, 11, who let out a "whoop" when he heard he was going to Hartford Magnet Middle School after all.

"The whole store heard it," she said, chuckling.

None of the superintendents could be reached for comment. However, Henry Garcia, community relations coordinator for Manchester public schools, said he was pleased.

"It's good news for us," he said, adding that the district had been calling parents Monday to notify them that their children would be attending a magnet school.

Asked if Manchester would pay the students' tuition, he said, "I don't know how that is going to be worked out."

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.
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