Governor Dannel P. Malloy, together with Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, today announced that 1,000 new school readiness slots have been identified and awarded to providers throughout Connecticut as a part of the education reforms the Governor championed earlier this year.
Public Act 12-116, An Act Concerning Education Reform, targets $6.775 million in new funding for increased access to high-quality early childhood education. The slots will be administered through the Connecticut School Readiness program, a state Department of Education initiative designed to provide for, and increase access to, high-quality preschool for children ages three and four.
"Early education provides the foundation for the future success of our children, and the assignment of the 1,000 new school readiness slots marks yet another important step toward improving the overall quality of education throughout the State of Connecticut," said Governor Malloy. "By focusing the new slots in high-needs areas, we are affirming our commitment to turning around struggling school districts. It won't happen overnight, but the steps we are taking today will make sure that we close the nation's largest achievement gap."
"New slots for early childhood education are the best investment we can make in our effort to turn around struggling schools districts," said Lt. Governor Wyman. "By getting more of our young people the opportunity to have the best start possible, we can make sure that the changes we're putting in place will have a lasting impact."
"High-quality preschool programs can contribute significantly to a child's healthy development," said State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. "In order to prevent performance gaps and increase academic success, it's important for us to invest in high-quality early childhood education. That's why we will work to implement this program effectively this year and to expand the availability of early childhood opportunities in the coming years."
As called for in the new education reform law, a substantial majority (750 of the 1,000 new school readiness slots) will be apportioned within 19 existing priority school readiness districts. Five hundred of these 750 slots will be created in Connecticut's ten reform school districts, a subset of the lowest-performing school districts in Connecticut. The remaining 250 new slots were allotted among competitive school readiness communities, defined as districts with two or more priority schools.
Earlier this spring, school readiness councils distributed a local request for proposals (RFP) to school readiness providers and other interested programs announcing the competition for additional spaces. Allocations were prioritized according to a community's capacity to add slots for the coming school year in facilities that hold, or will soon attain, either National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation or approval as a federally-designated Head Start facility.
Public Act 12-116 also funds an additional $3 million for school readiness quality initiatives, professional development for existing early childhood providers, and development of a quality rating and improvement system.
Governor Malloy has been committed to early childhood education since the introduction of his first budget. In addition to today's announcement, he has leveraged state funds to bring in over $4 million in philanthropic donations and signed into law legislation that resulted in the establishment of an Early Childhood Office within the Office of Policy and Management.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT