The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), Office of Early Childhood is seeking proposals from Connecticut local and regional boards of education to establish or expand high-quality preschool programs.
Funds for construction and operating costs of up to $75,000 each per classroom per year will be provided to applicants that have an unmet need for preschool education.
Programs must serve children who otherwise would not be enrolled in preschool. Schools must operate at least 6 hours a day for 180 days a year.
Boards of education funded through this grant must:
– Locate proposed preschool classroom(s) in a public school or in a space maintained by an early care and education and child development provider, pursuant to an agreement between the board of education and the provider establishing the Smart Start classrooms be operated by the board of education;
– Hold accreditation and be in good standing with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), be approved and/or in good standing with the federal Head Start program, have documentation that they are in the process of obtaining accreditation from NAEYC or have a plan to ensure that the program will be accredited within three years of receiving funding through Smart Start;
– Have class sizes that do not exceed 18 children;
– Comply with annual interim quality measures while seeking accreditation (Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale);
– Submit a letter of support for establishing or expanding a preschool program by the local or regional School Readiness Council, if any, for the school district;
– Demonstrate evidence of cooperating and coordinating with other governmental and community programs to provide services during periods when the preschool program is not in session; and
– Demonstrate how they will prioritize enrollment of vulnerable children (e.g. those with special needs, dual language learners, homeless, etc.).
Priority for funding will be given to boards of education that:
– Demonstrate the greatest need for the establishment or expansion of a preschool program;
– Allocate at least sixty percent of the spaces to children who are members of families that are at or below seventy-five percent of the state median income (SMI), or fifty percent of the spaces to children who are eligible for free and reduced price lunches; and
– Offer a full-day kindergarten program to all children in their community.