It appears Bridgeport will be a little closer to its goal of universal pre-k.
On Wednesday, the US Department of Education announced that Connecticut is to receive $12.5 million in additional grant money next year to help expand access to early childhood education. Bridgeport will be getting the largest portion of that money.
Through the federal government’s Preschool Development Grant Program, which is renewable for up to three additional years, Bridgeport is set to receive $4.5 million. According the press release issued by the city, that money will go to fund 180 new pre-k seats and 90 “renovated” or “improved” seats — meaning 90 existing seats will have longer days, and better pay and training for teachers.
Through state programs and this new federal grant, Bridgeport has added a total of 325 new pre-k slots over the past year.
This is great news. A quarter of Bridgeport kids eligible for state subsidized preschool do not currently have access.
Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz called the situation “unacceptable” and said she was “thrilled” about the federal grant.
“We’re moving one step closer to achieving the goal of universal pre-k for kids,” said Rabinowitz. “It’s another example of how Bridgeport schools are getting better every day.”
Access to universal preschool has been a major issue for the superintendent over the past several months. Rabinowitz told Linda Lambeck at the Connecticut Post that these new slots “could speed up the district’s still developing plan” towards that goal.
Mayor Bill Finch, another advocate for universal pre-k, expressed similar enthusiasm.
“This is great news for kids and moves us one step closer to our goal of universal pre-k,” said Finch.
“And research is clear: If kids aren’t reading at the level they should be by third grade, they’re less likely to graduate. We need to do more for our kids. That’s why these funds are so important.”
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