CT aims to expand Open Choice school program to 2 districts

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont revealed new details about his proposal to expand the state's Open Choice school program to provide more options for parents and students.

Video Transcript

- Options for Connecticut parents and students, Governor Lamont revealing new details about his proposal to expand the state's open choice program to Norwalk and Danbury. The goal is to make schools more diverse and ease overcrowding in some districts. Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis live in Norwalk with the story. Marcus.

MARCUS SOLIS: Norwalk one of those districts, [? Shirlene. ?] It is fully remote today because of the weather, but when it is in session, the district, the enrollment here is at 109% capacity. And thus the need to ease some of that overcrowding through the open choice program. Starting next year, 50 students from the district and 50 in Danbury will be able to attend schools in neighboring suburban communities that have seen enrollment decline.

Now, open choice has actually been around for 25 years in the cities of Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford. It's all voluntary. Families apply to participate, and towns choose whether or not to accept students. The host communities are reimbursed by the state, and the state pays busing costs. Lamont has made it part of his budget this year to expand open choice to Danbury and Norwalk. Supporters say the benefits are better educational opportunities and increased diversity.

WILL HASKELL: This bill is a win-win because students learn best and they learn more when they're surrounded by classmates who have a different lived experience than their own.

MARCUS SOLIS: That the sponsor of the bill that is expected to pass. Now, Norwalk and Danbury will long-term have to address some of the overcrowding needs. There are plans for additional school buildings and annexes to be built. But the governor says the benefit of open choice is that could immediately start addressing the need as soon as next school year.