HARTFORD — Legislative leaders announced last week a 10-year, $200 million plan to provide 50,000 children with early education.
“We want to give our children the best possible start in life, and pre-K initiatives are one of the most effective ways to achieve this,” said state Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-17), who was present during the announcement, in a press release. “This is an opportunity to lift more students out of the achievement gap and dramatically improve life outcomes across our state. This is a plan for Connecticut’s future.”
The program will be a grant program administered by the Office of Early Childhood, according to the release. The funding is directed toward traditional public schools and cannot supplant existing program funding. Towns must create or expand current programs with the funds.
Any municipality that can demonstrate an unmet need for pre-school can apply for a grant. The programs must prioritize space for students eligible for free and reduced price lunch. Multiple towns could join together to create a regional program and submit a joint proposal.
Initial grants are for five years with possible renewal for another five years.
The funds can be used for capital costs such as renovating classroom space, and operating expenses such as hiring certified teachers and purchasing materials and supplies.
According to the release, the program will be funded with $10 million each year over 10 years in bonding for capital expenses and $10 million each year over 10 years appropriated from the Tobacco Trust Fund for operating expenses.
Any funding allocated for the program will be excluded from the minimum budgetary requirement, the release stated.