According to the Hartford Choice Parent Brochure, the mission of Hartford choice is to offer “parents an opportunity to choose and apply to a variety of theme-based neighborhood Hartford schools for their children.” The purpose of this process is to improve Hartford schools and student achievement. In addition, “The Hartford Choice plan will provide options for families based on student needs, higher education, and career interests.”
Hartford Public Schools operate on an application process, even when a family remains within the Hartford District. This means that Hartford students are not automatically assigned to their “neighborhood school.” This intra-district approach works with all Hartford Public Schools, excluding Magnet and Charter Schools. Students starting at the Pre-K or Kindergarten level or entering Middle School or High School must undergo the choice application process. Students in this position select four schools and are guaranteed one of their four choices; this system is often referred to as a “lottery.” Hartford Public schools produced a parent Choice Brochure and conduct parent fairs in attempt to make this process easier and help parents choose the right school.
Interdistrict schools in Hartford give students and parents the ability to choose any type of school in more than one school district in Hartford and the surrounding suburbs. By any type of school, we mean either a magnet, charter, or an open choice school. For example, if you are a parent choosing the interdistrict route for your student, you are able to choose a magnet school, charter school or open choice school, in place of a Hartford Public School.
Since the Superior Court Case of Milo Sheff versus William O’Neill, the Hartford School District has had an increased focus on racially integrating their schools. According to the official Stipulation and Proposed Order,
“the Connecticut Supreme Court on July 9, 1996, held that public school students in the City of Hartford attended schools that were racially, ethnically, and economically isolated in violation of the Connecticut Constitution, and urged the State to take prompt steps to seek to remedy the violation…”
The interdistrict school choice option began to remedy these isolated schools. The recent focus on a more racially integrated school system in Hartford is the main reason for opening options for families living in the city of Hartford to more than public schools in their areas. The magnet schools use a completely revised and unique curriculum to bring students from all over Hartford to achieve the goal of integration. Charter schools are “’chartered’ by the State Board of Education, rather than a specific district.”
Finally, the open choice program allows urban students to attend public schools in suburban areas, and suburban students to attend public schools in urban areas.
The Captiol Region Education Council, established in 1996, works with and for districts in the Hartford Region. CREC is funded through local, state and private means. CREC focuses on professional development and school construction and facilities services. In addition, CREC manages 13 of the Hartford Inter-District Magnet Schools and 36 Greater Hartford Districts use CREC services. CREC Magnet schools is one of the two types of Magnet Schools in Hartford.
The Regional School Choice Office manages the admissions process. CREC schools offer diverse classrooms with thematic concentrations. CREC also prides itself on preparation after school through learned experience at internships or other program. CREC offers information sessions and brochures to help interested families learn more.
HPS Magnet Schools
The other type of Magnet Schools is known as Hartford Host Interdistict Magnet Schools. Students from Hartford and surrounding regions are eligible to enroll. All schools are public schools. As mentioned, these schools how specific themes in their curriculum. A benefit many parents find of these schools is that some of these schools offer extended days and school years. Like the CREC Magnet Schools, interested families fill out an application from the Regional School Choice Office. However, if a student is in their final grade at their current school must also fill out the HPS Choice application. The main difference is that these schools are run by the Hartford Public School System, where as CREC is not.