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Connecticut Public Acts 1996

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Substitute Senate Bill No. 58

PUBLIC ACT NO. 96-213

AN ACT CONCERNING SCHOOL READINESS AND INTRADISTRICT CHOICE.

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

Section 1. (NEW) Local and regional boards of education may develop intradistrict student assignment programs. Under such programs parents may select the public school to which their child will attend provided the school is in the school district in which the child resides. Boards of education may provide transportation services to students participating in the program.

Sec. 2. Section 26 of public act 95-226 is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) AS USED IN THIS SECTION AND SECTION 27 OF PUBLIC ACT 95-226, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 3 OF THIS ACT: (1) "EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAM" MEANS A NONSECTARIAN PROGRAM OF NOT LESS THAN (A) FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY HOURS AND ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY DAYS FOR CHILDREN AT LEAST FOUR YEARS OF AGE AND (B) ONE HUNDRED FIFTY HOURS AND SIXTY DAYS FOR CHILDREN UNDER FOUR YEARS OF AGE, OF DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES EACH YEAR; (2) "ACCREDITED" MEANS ACCREDITED BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE EDUCATION OF YOUNG CHILDREN OR OTHERWISE MEETING SUCH STANDARDS AS MAY BE ESTABLISHED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION; AND (3) "COMMISSIONER" MEANS THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SERVICES.

[(a)] (b) The COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SERVICES, IN COLLABORATION WITH THE State Board of Education AND THE COMMISSIONERS OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, PUBLIC HEALTH AND CORRECTIONS shall [provide] ESTABLISH, within available appropriations, [grants to assist local and regional boards of education in establishing] A school readiness [programs] PROGRAM in accordance with THIS SECTION AND section 27 of [this act. Any local or regional board of education may apply for a school readiness grant at such time and in such manner as the commissioner of education prescribes, provided such application includes: (1) The results of a needs assessment which identifies eligible children and existing school readiness programs and services; (2) A program description and budget identifying reasonable costs and sources of revenue; and (3) Comments by a school district readiness council, as described in section 27 of this act] PUBLIC ACT 95-226, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 3 OF THIS ACT. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL MODEL THE PROGRAM ON THE PROGRAM ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECTION 17b-749.

[(b)] (c) No [grant pursuant to this section] FUNDS RECEIVED BY A PROVIDER PURSUANT TO THE SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM shall be used to supplant federal funding received for early childhood education on behalf of [such] children IN AN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAM.

[(c)] (d) The [Department of Education] COMMISSIONER shall convene [an Interagency] A School Readiness Council consisting of representatives from [all] appropriate state agencies [to improve coordination and maximize resources] AND LOCAL AND REGIONAL BOARDS OF EDUCATION. PARTICIPATION IN THE COUNCIL SHALL BE OPEN AND VOLUNTARY. THE COUNCIL SHALL: (1) COORDINATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF A RANGE OF ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS TO MEET THE EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION NEEDS OF ALL CHILDREN, (2) FOSTER PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS OFFERING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS, INCLUDING EMPLOYER SPONSORED PROGRAMS, (3) PROVIDE INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE TO PARENTS IN SELECTING AN APPROPRIATE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAM, AND (4) WORK TO ENSURE, TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, THAT EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS ALLOW OPEN ENROLMENT FOR ALL CHILDREN AND ALLOW FAMILIES RECEIVING BENEFITS FOR SUCH A PROGRAM TO CHOOSE A PUBLIC OR ACCREDITED PRIVATE PROGRAM.

Sec. 3. Section 27 of public act 95-226 is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) [A] THE school readiness program shall include: (1) [Not less than four hundred fifty hours and one hundred eighty days of developmentally appropriate educational experiences each year] OPPORTUNITIES FOR PARENTS TO CHOOSE AMONG ACCREDITED EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS; (2) A PLAN FOR COLLABORATION AMONG COMMUNITY PROGRAMS AND SERVICES TO FACILITATE FULL-DAY AND YEAR-ROUND CHILD CARE AND EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN OF WORKING PARENTS AND PARENTS IN EDUCATION OR TRAINING PROGRAMS; [(2)] (3) parent involvement and parenting education; [(3)] (4) health services including appropriate immunizations and screenings, and nutrition services; [(4)] (5) family literacy programs that incorporate adult basic education; [(5)] (6) a plan of transition for participating children from [the school readiness] AN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION program to kindergarten; [(6) a plan for coordination to access community programs and services, arrange continuous child care and education for children of working parents or parents in education or training programs and maximize other available resources;] (7) a school district readiness council which includes parents, community leaders and representatives of community service agency providers; (8) a plan for professional development for staff; and (9) an annual evaluation of the effectiveness of the program.

(b) [A] UNDER THE school readiness program, [may be operated by a] THE COMMISSIONER MAY PURCHASE DIRECTLY OR PROVIDE SUBSIDIES TO PARENTS TO PURCHASE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS PROVIDED BY ANY ELEMENTARY OR SECONDARY SCHOOL, NURSERY SCHOOL, PRESCHOOL, DAY CARE CENTER, GROUP DAY CARE HOME, FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER, FAMILY DAY CARE HOME, HEAD START PROGRAM OR local or regional board of education [or a local or regional board of education may purchase or otherwise make arrangements with other providers of nonsectarian preschool education, provided any providers shall be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or otherwise meet such standards as may be established by the Commissioner of Education. If a local or regional board of education makes arrangements with more than one provider, parents or guardians who would like to have their children participate shall be able to choose between providers on a space-available basis] PROVIDED IF THE COMMISSIONER PURCHASES SUCH PROGRAMS DIRECTLY HE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO PURCHASING FROM PROVIDERS OF FULL-DAY AND YEAR-ROUND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

Sec. 4. On or before January 1, 1997, the Commissioner of Social Services shall report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, human services and appropriations and the budgets of state agencies on the school readiness program.

Sec. 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 1996.

Approved June 4, 1996. Effective July 1, 1996.

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