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Students Soar via School Choice: ​RSCO offers all families options ​

Updated: Feb 8

• Good News – All Connecticut Families Enjoy School Choice​


This article first appeared as the cover story in the January edition of Today Magazine, our monthly publication


Special to Today Magazine


WHEN ASHLEY and WILL Leschber moved from California to Connecticut in 2016 to be closer to family, they traded San Diego for Simsbury and settled in the Farmington Valley — yet they didn’t know they would become part of another loving and supportive family just one town over in Bloomfield.



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Ashley, an Avon native, knew about the area’s outstanding public school system, but she learned through word of mouth that both urban and suburban families across the state take advantage of school choice options so their children can pursue a top-notch and specialized education — through the Greater Hartford Regional School Choice Office aka RSCO. That meant an opportunity for their daughter to attend a free public school outside of the family’s home district that fit her budding interests and passions.


With two thespian parents, Scarlett (then age 5) was already beginning to show an interest in visual and performing arts.


The Ana Grace Academy of the Arts in Bloomfield, one of RSCO’s 43 themed magnet schools, looked like a great option. Academy students receive instruction in core academics plus vocal and instrumental music, visual arts, dance, theatre, creative writing, media and interdisciplinary arts.


Ashley and Will applied on Scarlett’s behalf, and she received a placement offer for kindergarten. Fast-forward three years, and all the Leschber children — Scarlett (now age 8), Violet (age 6) and Ruby (age 3) — attend the school with hopes and dreams of becoming artists and business owners.


“There is so much heart and genuine care that my girls receive every day, and when I drop them off each morning, they’re always excited to be there,” Ashley says.


“I have yet to meet a teacher or staff member who isn’t kind or supportive. Ana Grace Academy fosters a welcoming environment where my children feel safe and encouraged to explore their creativity through various means of exploration, and we feel so grateful to be a part of the community.”


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Will and Ashley Leschber of Simsbury, with daughters Scarlett and Ruby and Violet — the girls attend an arts-based magnet school in Bloomfield

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Through the RSCO school choice program, every family in Greater Hartford with a student entering pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 can apply to attend up to three different types of free public schools in the region, including:


• 43 magnet schools incorporating specialized themes into the core curriculum — such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), visual and performing arts, dual-language and Montessori.


• Open Choice public schools in high-performing school districts outside a student’s hometown — primarily for Hartford students attending schools in suburban communities.


• Three regional technical high schools (CTECS) — the acronym stands for the Connecticut Technical Education And Career System — specializing in career and technical education: A.I. Prince in Hartford, E.C. Goodwin in New Britain and Howell Cheney in Manchester.


The program currently serves over 20,000 students and brings together families from over 80 towns in engaging and diverse learning environments shown to increase creativity, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Clubs, extracurricular activities and athletics are available at all schools, and transportation is provided for students in Grades K through 12.

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The Leschber sisters — Ruby (seated) and Scarlett and Violet — are Simsbury residents who attend a magnet school through the state’s Regional School Choice Office (RSCO) • They created this artwork at their school — Ana Grace Academy of the Arts in Bloomfield

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Where to Learn More

RSCO serves as the one-stop shop for families interested in discovering and accessing their school choice options.


“School choice empowers families to pursue educational opportunities that fit their child’s individual needs, interests and passions,” says RSCO director Robin Cecere. “This application season, we are offering families more support than ever before. Our new Parent Resource Center, as well as our enhanced website and application experience, will ensure that all families interested in school choice get the information and support they need to make the best decisions for their students’ futures.”


RSCO’s newly established Parent Resource Center (PRC) was created to provide dedicated high-level expertise and comprehensive support to families regarding the school discovery, application and placement process.


Available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for extended hours during the on-time application period, PRC staff will assist families with questions and discuss strategies to maximize their application via phone, email, in-person appointments and in-app messaging.


Contact info as follows:

• Phone — 860-713-6990

• Email — rsco.sde@ct . gov


Extensive language interpretation and translation assistance is available. PRC staff members are also actively engaged in community and school events throughout Greater Hartford to expand access to RSCO’s high-quality application assistance.


Additionally, RSCO’s enhanced website — ChooseYourSchool.org — and online application make it easy for families to explore school choice options by grade level, location, academic theme, sports and extracurricular activities, and to learn about transportation options while tracking application and placement status.


Families can access important resources, including the updated RSCO School Choice Family Reference Guide — which includes tips, strategies and detailed information about the application process and timeline, placement rules and priority protocols, waitlist procedures and much more.


To further assist families with the application process, RSCO hosts a series of fun family-friendly events throughout the application season.


Attendees have an opportunity to meet with RSCO staff and school representatives to learn more about school choice options, classes, sports, clubs and transportation — and to receive application assistance and participate in fun games and giveaways.


“We would have been happy at our local public school,” Ashley Leschber says, “but as students thrive in various environments, I think it’s important to explore schools that may be an even stronger fit for your family. The RSCO program does a great job of allowing parents the chance to get to know the schools involved and encouraging people to learn more about them so they can make the most informed choice when they submit their application.


“I would encourage parents who are curious to take advantage of that so they can make the best choice for their family.”


For more information about school choice, to register for upcoming events and to apply for the 2024-2025 school year, visit the ChooseYourSchool website and follow RSCO on Facebook: www.facebook.com/RSCOGH +


Sources – RSCO • Adams & Knight Inc.

“We feel so grateful to be a part of the [RSCO] community” — Ashley Leschber • RSCO parent

• School CHOICE — TIMELINE + History


1966 — Project Concern established 


1989 — Sheff v. O’Neill lawsuit filed 


July 1996 — Sheff v. O’Neill decision 


1996 — Project Concern rebrands as Project Choice 


1998 — Project Choice rebrands and expands as Open Choice 

• The rebrand expands opportunities for students from Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven to attend schools in nearby suburban towns — and for students from suburban towns to attend special programming in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport — special programming refers to a specific theme at an urban neighborhood school 


2003-2020 — Development of Open Choice 

• A series of stipulations establishes a system of free, public, high-quality interdistrict educational opportunities in Greater Hartford — magnet, Open Choice and technical high schools — for Connecticut students


2008 — Regional School Choice Office established 

• RSCO is established by the state Department of Education as a single resource for school choice information, application and placement 


2022 — Settlement reached in Sheff v. O’Neill case 

• Final settlement is agreed upon in the Sheff v. O’Neill case to support more educational, athletic and extracurricular opportunities for Connecticut students through RSCO aka the Greater Hartford Regional School Choice Office


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