HARTFORD, Conn. –Unable to get a majority of its members to support a universal preschool bill approved last month by the Senate, the House took the unusual step early Saturday morning of splitting the bill in two and sending both back to the Senate.
House members voiced concerns about a Senate proposal called “Smart Start,” which would allow cities and towns to use $10 million in bonding to renovate classrooms and make them age appropriate. It also uses $10 million in Tobacco Settlement Funds starting on July 1, 2015, to hire teachers to manage those classrooms.
The program provides operating funds in the amount of $5,000 per student up to $75,000 per classroom with a maximum of $300,000 per district. It also authorizes $75,000 per classroom in capital grants.
Outgoing Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, pitched the proposal in early April after the public hearing process. But it only received the support of 79 House Democrats, which is four more than it needed to pass.