HARTFORD, Conn. – Sen. President Donald Williams and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey announced plans Wednesday to use $10 million from Tobacco Settlement funds and $10 million in bonding every year for the next 10 years to implement a universal preschool program.
“This is a winner across the board,” Williams said at a Capitol press conference. “An extraordinary step forward to universal pre-K.”
The total cost of the program would be $200 million over 10 years. Half of the money would come from borrowing and half would come from the Tobacco Settlement fund. The money from borrowing would be used to expand classroom capacity and resources, while the Tobacco Settlement funds would act as operating funds to pay the salaries of the teachers.
The plan is to use the money to fund about 50,000 slots for public school children ages three and four years old. Currently, there are 16,420 children aged three and four attending preschool programs in Connecticut public schools. There are another 10,000 children receiving services through the School Readiness program, and 11,400 are receiving early childhood services outside the public school system.
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