NEW MILFORD -- The Board of Education's majority vote to oppose a higher tuition bill for the 17 town students who attend the Danbury-based magnet school was a symbolic gesture of opposition.

The additional $5,000 still must be paid, said Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote.

In a 7-2 vote Wednesday night, the majority opposed the rate increase announced in November. William Wellman and Thomas McSherry voted in favor of paying the new amount.

Danbury partners with New Milford and four other area school districts for enrollment at the Western Connecticut Academy for International Studies. The kindergarten through fifth-grade school has about 380 seats, 230 filled with Danbury students.

New Milford students have attended the magnet school for the past four years. For three years the tuition was $1,000 per student. This year the tuition jumped to $1,500, which the board paid.

Last month Danbury school leaders imposed an additional $284 fee for all non-Danbury students, because of state reimbursement shortfalls.

Board member David Lawson noted the new tuition is a 78 percent increase over the original cost. But William Wellman said the per-pupil cost for New Milford schools is much more, about $10,000.

The district has committed to send three more kindergartners to the K-5 magnet school each year. It is then obligated to pay tuition for those students through the fifth grade, or as long as they choose to attend.

The board's vote suggests opposition to continued tuition hikes, which could lead members to rethink sending students to the school, which offers full-day kindergarten and teaches Spanish.

Parents could still choose to send their children, but they would have to provide transportation. The district currently provides a bus and receives state reimbursement for the expense.

In other business, members voted to endorse a Booster Club project to build bathrooms behind the concession stand at the high school athletic field, instead of continuing to use portable toilets. The $40,000 estimated cost will be covered by donations.

School board members honored 42 high school sophomores who earned the top score in all categories of the Connecticut Aptitude Performance Test. Last year, 33 students earned the honor.

Contact Nanci Hutson


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