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Senate approves preschool package

Sen. Beth Bye, Sen. President Donald Williams, and Sen. Andrea Stillman.  (Photo by Christine Stuart)
Sen. Beth Bye, Sen. President Donald Williams, and Sen. Andrea Stillman. (Photo by Christine Stuart)

HARTFORD, Conn. –The Senate approved legislation Friday that moves the state toward universal preschool and establishes the Office of Early Childhood.

The bill, which passed 33 to 2, will 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 funding for the program would be authorized for five years.

Democratic lawmakers pitched the initiative they’re calling “Smart Start” on April 9 after draft budget proposals had been circulated, but Sen. President Donald Williams argued that it’s not a budget-busting idea because it uses Tobacco Settlement Funds and repurposes them.

The money in the Tobacco Settlement Fund is supposed to be used on smoking cessation programs to help residents quit smoking.

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.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.

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