Two Groton parents with children at a New London magnet school say the school board’s decision to cut interdistrict transportation won't save money but will effectively force working and low-income parents to pull their children from the schools because they can't drive them.
More than 130 Groton children attended interdistrict magnet schools as of the 2011-12 school year.
The school board recently approved a budget that cut interdistrict transportation. School officials explained the change would save $100,000.
But Christine Cabral and Kate Colello, whose children attend the Regional Multicultural Magnet School, said the town doesn’t pay for the transportation but is fully reimbursed.
A Connecticut Department of Education Spokeswoman confirmed Friday that Groton receives a grant of up to $1,300 per pupil for every child transported to an interdistrict magnet school. The money is reimbursed to the town rather than the school district.
“That’s going to put over 130-plus students without a ride to their school. And they are Groton students,” said Cabral, who has three children at the multicultural school.
She said she’s disappointed she has fight for something that a state grant covers.
“It’s just so ridiculous,” she said, adding some parents have to move their children. “What if for some reason you don’t have a vehicle? What about lower income families? What if you have a full-time job and you can’t get out at 3:15 to go get your kid?"
The change would affect students who attend programs including the multicultural magnet school, the Dual Language & Arts Magnet Middle School in Waterford, the Winthrop Elementary School in New London, and the Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut in New London.
Colello, whose two sons attend the multicultural magnet school, said the cut effectively denies school choice to families who cannot afford to drive their children. She said knows the school board is in a tough spot and she doesn’t envy the cuts it's had to make.
“But at the same, this costs the town nothing,” she said. “There’s logic here that I think they’re just not seeing for some reason.”
Interim Superintendent John Ramos told Colello the school board discussed the issue, and the Town Council’s budget public hearing is 7 p.m. on March 28 in the Groton Senior Center.