Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 1103

January Session, 2011

 

LCO No. 3969

 

*03969_______ED_*

Referred to Committee on Education

 

Introduced by:

 

(ED)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 10-15 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

Public schools including school readiness programs, as defined in section 10-16p, and kindergartens shall be maintained in each town for at least one hundred eighty days of actual school sessions during each year. When public school sessions are cancelled for reasons of inclement weather or otherwise, the rescheduled sessions shall not be held on Saturday or Sunday. Public schools may conduct weekend education programs to provide supplemental and remedial services to students. The State Board of Education (1) may authorize the shortening of any school year for a school district, a school or a portion of a school on account of an unavoidable emergency, and (2) may authorize implementation of scheduling of school sessions to permit full year use of facilities which may not offer each child one hundred eighty days of school sessions within a given school year, but which assures an opportunity for each child to average a minimum of one hundred eighty days of school sessions per year during thirteen years of educational opportunity in the elementary and secondary schools. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section and section 10-16, the State Board of Education may, upon application by a local or regional board of education, approve for any single school year, in whole or in part, a plan to implement alternative scheduling of school sessions which assures at least four hundred fifty hours of actual school work for nursery schools and half-day kindergartens and at least nine hundred hours of actual school work for full-day kindergartens and grades one to twelve, inclusive.

Sec. 2. Subdivision (1) of subsection (d) of section 10-16p of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(d) (1) The Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Services, shall establish a competitive grant program to provide spaces in accredited school readiness programs for eligible children who reside (A) in an area served by a priority school or a former priority school as provided for in subdivision (2) of this subsection, (B) in a town ranked one to fifty when all towns are ranked in ascending order according to town wealth, as defined in subdivision (26) of section 10-262f, whose school district is not a priority school district pursuant to section 10-266p, or (C) in a town formerly a town described in subparagraph (B) of this subdivision, as provided for in said subdivision (2). A town in which a priority school is located, a regional school readiness council, pursuant to subsection (c) of section 10-16r, for a region in which such a school is located or a town described in subparagraph (B) of this subdivision may apply for such a grant in an amount not to exceed one hundred seven thousand dollars per priority school or town. Eligibility shall be determined for a five-year period based on an applicant's designation as having a priority school or being a town described in subparagraph (B) of this subdivision for the initial year of application. Grant awards shall be made annually contingent upon available funding and a satisfactory annual evaluation. The chief elected official of such town and the superintendent of schools of the school district or the regional school readiness council shall submit a plan, as described in subsection (c) of this section, for the expenditure of such grant funds to the Department of Education. In awarding grants pursuant to this subsection, the commissioner shall give preference to applications submitted by regional school readiness councils and may, within available appropriations, provide a grant in excess of one hundred seven thousand dollars to [towns with two or more priority schools in such district] any such town or regional school readiness council that makes additional spaces available in an accredited school readiness program for eligible children. A town or regional school readiness council awarded a grant pursuant to this subsection shall use the funds to purchase spaces for such children from providers of accredited school readiness programs.

Sec. 3. Section 10-16y of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

[There shall be an Office of Early Childhood Planning, Outreach and Coordination within the Department of Education. The office shall be responsible for:

(1) Planning, developing and coordinating with other agencies the delivery of services to children birth to nine years of age, inclusive;

(2) Coordinating the enhancement and implementation of the Early Childhood Information System, in consultation with the Early Childhood Education Cabinet established pursuant to section 10-16z, with the capability of tracking: (A) The health, safety and school readiness of all children receiving early care and education from any local or regional board of education or any program receiving public funding, in a manner similar to the system described in section 10-10a; (B) the characteristics of the existing and potential workforce serving such children in any local or regional school district or in a program receiving any public funding; and (C) the characteristics of the programs in which such children are served. The Department of Education shall be responsible for assigning unique identifiers to all such children and staff and programs tracked by the Early Childhood Information System. Any local or regional board of education, school readiness program, as defined in subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of section 10-16p receiving any public funding, or any child day care center described in subdivision (1) of section 19a-77 and licensed by the Department of Public Health, including any participating in a program administered by the Department of Social Services pursuant to chapter 319rr, shall ensure that all children and all staff in such center or program are entered into the Early Childhood Information System.

(3) Developing and reporting on an early childhood accountability plan, in consultation with the Early Childhood Education Cabinet;

(4) Implementing a communications strategy for outreach to families, service providers and policymakers;

(5) Beginning a state-wide longitudinal evaluation of the school readiness program, not later than January 1, 2010, in consultation with the Department of Social Services, that examines the educational progress of children from prekindergarten programs to grade four, inclusive, including a study of the reliability and validity of the kindergarten assessment tool developed pursuant to subsection (h) of section 10-14n; and

(6) Developing, coordinating and supporting public and private partnerships to aid early childhood initiatives.]

Not later than September 1, 2011, the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Social Services, shall begin, within available appropriations, a state-wide longitudinal evaluation of the school readiness program that examines the educational progress of children from prekindergarten programs to grade four, inclusive, including a study of the reliability and validity of the kindergarten assessment tool developed pursuant to subsection (h) of section 10-14n.

Sec. 4. Section 10-16z of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(a) There is established the Early Childhood Education Cabinet. The cabinet shall consist of: (1) The Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's designee, (2) one representative from the Department of Education who is responsible for programs required under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, 20 USC 1400 et seq., as amended from time to time, appointed by the Commissioner of Education, (3) the Commissioner of Social Services, or the commissioner's designee, (4) a representative from an institution of higher education in this state appointed by the Commissioner of Higher Education, (5) the Commissioner of Public Health, or the commissioner's designee, (6) the Commissioner of Developmental Services, or the commissioner's designee, (7) the Commissioner of [Mental Health and Addiction Services] Children and Families, or the commissioner's designee, (8) the executive director of the Commission on Children, or the executive director's designee, (9) the project director of the Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Office, (10) a [representative from a Head Start program] parent or guardian of a child who attends or attended a school readiness program appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, (11) a representative of a local provider of early childhood education appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, (12) two appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, one of whom is a member of the House of Representatives and one of whom is a parent who has a child attending a school in a priority school district, (13) two appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, one of whom is a member of the Senate and one of whom is a representative of a public elementary school with a prekindergarten program, (14) two appointed by the Governor, one of whom is a representative of the Connecticut Head Start Association and one of whom is a representative of the business or philanthropic community in this state, [appointed by the Governor,] and (15) the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, or the secretary's designee. The chairperson of the council shall be appointed from among its members by the Governor.

(b) Within available appropriations and such private funding as may be available, the Early Childhood Education Cabinet shall (1) coordinate among state agencies, as well as public and private partnerships, the development of services that enhance the health, safety and learning of children from birth to nine years of age, inclusive, (2) not later than December 1, 2009, and annually thereafter, develop an annual plan of action that assigns the appropriate state agency to complete the tasks specified in the federal Head Start Act of 2007, P.L. 110-134, as amended from time to time, (3) develop and implement the Early Childhood Information System with the capability of tracking: (A) The health, safety and school readiness of all children receiving early care and education from any local or regional board of education or any program receiving public funding, in a manner similar to the system described in section 10-10a, and (B) the characteristics of the programs in which such children are served, (4) implement a communications strategy for outreach to families, service providers and policymakers, and [(3)] (5) not later than March 1, 2010, and annually thereafter, submit an annual state-wide strategic report, pursuant to said federal Head Start Act, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, addressing the progress such agencies have made toward the completion of such tasks outlined under said federal Head Start Act and this subsection to the Governor and the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education and human services.

(c) The Early Childhood Education Cabinet shall be within the Department of Education for administrative purposes only.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2011

10-15

Sec. 2

July 1, 2011

10-16p(d)(1)

Sec. 3

July 1, 2011

10-16y

Sec. 4

July 1, 2011

10-16z

Statement of Purpose:

To require school districts to provide preschool; to provide additional school readiness grants to towns and regional school readiness councils that make additional spaces available in school readiness programs; to eliminate the Office of Early Childhood Planning, Outreach and Coordination and require the Department of Education to begin a state-wide longitudinal evaluation of the school readiness program; and to amend the membership of the Early Childhood Education Cabinet and add certain duties to the cabinet.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]