10-year investment will exponentially increase enrollment in preschool programs in Connecticut’s public schools
“Early childhood education is critical to a student’s social and emotional development, as well as their academic success,” said Senator Bartolomeo. “Students who receive an early education are better equipped to handle their day-to-day tasks, as well as any challenges that they may face. Connecticut Smart Start will expand the horizons of tens of thousands of children in our region and across the state.”
“This is the opportunity breakthrough Connecticut’s children need,” said Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn). “Children who experience high quality pre-K arrive at school ready to learn, are less likely to need remedial or special education services and have higher rates of high school graduation. Connecticut Smart Start will help level the playing field for tens of thousands of children—it’s the best educational investment we can make.”
- Oversight: grant program administered by Office of Early Childhood (OEC).
- High Quality: teachers must be certified; programs must obtain National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation within 3 years of receiving funding; classroom size cannot exceed 16 children with child-teacher ratio not greater than ten to one.
- New Capacity: funding is directed toward traditional public schools and cannot supplant existing program funding; towns must create or expand current programs.
- Creating Efficiencies: programs will be funded on a programmatic basis rather than a “per-slot” basis of the current system.
- Allowable Expenses: capital costs such as renovation of classroom space, and operating expenses such as hiring of certified teachers, and purchasing materials and supplies.
- Any city or town that can demonstrate an unmet need for pre-school.
- Programs must prioritize space for students eligible Free and Reduced Price Lunch.
- Programs in traditional public schools are eligible for funds.
- Includes but is not limited to Priority School Districts, Competitive School Districts and Alliance Districts.
- Program offers the potential for regional cooperation—multiple towns could join together to create a regional program and submit a joint proposal.
- Professional development offered by school districts for their teachers must be made available at no expense to community child care providers—currently some professional development offered regionally—private providers could take advantage of greater opportunities for professional development.
- $10 million each year over 10 years in bonding for capital expenses; $10 million each year over 10 years appropriated from Tobacco Trust Fund for operating expenses.
- Initial funding grant to town is for 5 years; possible renewal for another 5 years assuming quality and outcomes; annual reporting to OEC.
- Any funding allocated for this purpose will be excluded from the Minimum Budgetary Requirement (MBR).