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Stratford to Pay $1 Million to Bus Magnet School Kids

The cost to transport magnet school students has increased as a result of decreased state funding.

Stratford will pay more than $158,000 next year to bus 92 students to two Bridgeport magnet schools.

The town has to shoulder the unexpected increase to its school budget because of a drop in state transportation funding for Bridgeport, according to Michael Feeney, the chief operating officer for Stratford schools.

"This year they found transportation is more than what [a state] grant is providing," Feeney said after a budget committee meeting Tuesday night.

As a result, Stratford will have to pay $69,000 to transport 40 students to Discovery Magnet School, and $89,700 to bus 52 students to the Fairchild Wheeler Magnet Campus, a multi-magnet high school set to open in the fall.

The combined cost makes up most of a $209,000 proposed increase to the school board's 2013-14 funding allocation for magnet school transportation, which has a total budget of just over $1 million.

Stratford pays for the cost associated with sending a total of 252 students to seven magnet schools in the area.

Feeney said school officials received a letter from Bridgeport saying the per capita transportation cost for a magnet school student next fall will be $3,000, $1,300 of which will be reimbursed via a state grant. That leaves Stratford responsible for a per-student charge of $1,700.

If Stratford decided to use its own buses to transport magnet students, the cost to ship students just to Discovery would total $100,000, about $10,000 more than what the town is planning on paying Bridgeport, Feeney said.

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After revisions over the past month, the proposed school budget for fiscal year 2013-14 comes in at $96,804,974, a 2.99 percent increase over the current fiscal year's budget, which was passed last year with a 0.67 percent increase.

A final budget is expected to be sent to Mayor John A. Harkins for approval by mid-February.

Stratford Patch will continue to provide updates on budget deliberations in the coming days.

Robert Chambers January 23, 2013 at 01:15 PM
If the state stops giving Stratford what it deserves for state funding then Stratford residents should not have to send as much to muttering Dannel. He needs to cut his rampant out of control spending.
tom January 23, 2013 at 04:07 PM
I want to ask a couple of stupid questions: 1. Why does Stratford feel any need to subcontract the education of its children given the size of the education budget? 2. If this subcontracting is needed because no Stratford school can provide equivalent education then why don't the paid "professionals" fix the problem in Stratford instead of subcontracting their job to Bridgeport? 3. Does the Supt. of Schools and his captive Board of Education have any business sense at all between them? It would seem that if they excel at anything, it is finding their way through the State bureaucracy to get "funding" and not in knowing what to do with the funds once obtained. Isn't it about time that we focused on how these funds are used rather than who is providing them? This reminds me of Nero fiddling as Rome burns.
Peter Myslinski January 23, 2013 at 06:26 PM
If it is the parents choice to send their children to a Bridgeport magnet school, let them pay for getting them there.
Theresa January 23, 2013 at 06:38 PM
If the term "magnet" school is correct -- "Magnet" refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal boundaries defined by authorities (usually school boards) as school zones that feed into certain schools -- then why is a Bridgeport magnet school relying on Stratford to transport students to their magnet school. Shouldn't they be covering half the cost? Some magnet schools have a competitive entrance process, requiring an entrance examination, interview, or audition, therefore it should not fall into the same category as a public school where EVERYONE is welcome. If it is restrictive, then it should be considered a PRIVATE school and responsible for it's own transportation. I never understood the "academy" nonsense either. It's a public school or it isn't. The quality of education should be (and I suspect is) equal throughout Stratford.
Theresa January 23, 2013 at 06:40 PM
My parents had to figure out a way to get me to a parochial high school from Shelton. Eventually the Shelton bus service complied but I spent several years getting a ride to school from The Mother in The Mustang.
David January 23, 2013 at 06:40 PM
What is a Magnet School? Are they effective? Are they private schools? Does the town pay for buses at the private schools? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnet_school
Kelly Coble January 24, 2013 at 12:07 AM
The headline for this article is incorrect. The $1 million dollars is, according to the article, for all the student transportation in town, not just for the Magnet School kids.
Brian Pecora January 27, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Adding 252 students to the Stratford school system would cost far more than the cost of busing students to magnet schools.
tom January 27, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Hello Brian: If that is the case, then before we bus I suggest this: 1. Let's look at the cost of educating a pupil in Stratford to determine if the cost is in or out of line then react accordingly. 2. Let's look at our system to see how its effectiveness rates against some fair, objective measure outside of the educational establishment then respond accordingly. 3. If neither of the above exposes problems, then let's shut down the system completely and subcontract all of our education to Bridgeport who can apparently do better at it than us.

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