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New Hartford, Barkhamsted Schools Join Others In Magnet School Tuition Lawsuit

By: Maria Moore

Both the New Hartford Public Schools district and the Barkhamsted School district have joined with Region 10 and three other school districts in a lawsuit filed against the Connecticut Department of Education regarding some tuition charges for district children to attend magnet schools. The other plaintiffs in the case are: Regional District 16 (comprised of Prospect and Beacon Falls), Newington and Ellington.

The lawsuit, filed by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Mark K. Sommaruga of Sullivan, Schoen, Campane & Connon, claims that the state improperly charges the districts tuition for part-time and preschool students to attend magnet school programs.

School bus in Funlandia, Brodie Park

In the case of New Hartford, the Board of Education is objecting at having to pay preschool tuition for New Hartford students attending the Reggio Magnet School of the Arts in Avon. Since New Hartford does not provide preschool for its students, Board of Ed members felt it was unfair that the district should have to pay the preschool costs of New Hartford students attending Reggio’s preschool program. This concern was first raised by Board of Ed member Steve Tuxbury during the 2009-2010 school year, and it was again raised this past school year (2010-2011) by Steve and fellow BOE member and Chairman Bryan Keilty. At their June 21 meeting, the BOE members unanimously approved joining the lawsuit being spearheaded by Region 10 “to pursue Magnet School Preschool Tuition legislation, not to exceed legal costs in excess of $2,000;” see the unapproved minutes of that meeting on the New Hartford Schools Board of Ed Minutes section.

Our reporter stopped by to speak to Dr. Philip O’Reilly about this lawsuit and he informed her that the item will be part of the agenda of the upcoming Board of Ed meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 23. As soon as that agenda becomes available we will post it in our Calendar section.

The above report includes information from the Hartford Courant online edition and the Republican-American print edition.

Note: The New Hartford Public schools does run a preschool program at New Hartford Elementary School for preschool students who have been identified as having developmental or language deficits. A number of “typical” students also attend that preschool program; however, parents pay tuition for their children to attend that program.

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