State-Funded Preschools to Start This Fall Across Connecticut
Twelve school districts across Connecticut will be getting state-funded preschools starting this fall. It’s the first step toward the governor’s goal to provide preschool to all children.
The State Bond Commission approved a $1.6 million grant to provide preschool programs in the places that need them most.
It’s the beginning of the new Smart Start program, which is a ten-year plan to expand access to preschool for the state’s low income children. The idea is help these students enter kindergarten with same skills as their wealthy peers, says Diana Lejardi, a spokesman for the Office of Early Childhood.
“So this is really kind of just making high quality preschool available to young children who otherwise would not have it," Lejardi said. "So kind of leveling the playing field so that when they enter kindergarten, they’ll have the chance to be academically successful.”
Twenty-two districts applied for funding, but only 12 were selected. Each community needed to demonstrate an unmet need, and they had to offer programs that were six hours per day with no more than 18 kids per class.
Each district had to show it had a teacher evaluation program in place for the preschool teachers, and teachers have to have at least a bachelor’s degree.
"Teachers also need to be certified," Lejardi said. "So these are very high-quality programs. These are teachers who are knowledgeable of early childhood."
Here are the communities that will be getting money, and what they're using it for:
Districts are eligible for state money for up to ten years.
The state is also getting $12.5 million each year over the next four years from the federal government to develop preschool programs.