Chapter 13 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 13 the following section:-
Section 13A. (a) The board and department shall develop a program for universal pre-kindergarten education in gateway municipalities, as defined in section 3A of chapter 23A, which shall be available to all children ages 4 and older who reside in a gateway municipality and would be eligible for free or reduced price lunch if the child attended a public school; provided, that the program may be available to children ages 3 and older who otherwise meet the requirements of this subsection.
(b) In developing the program, the board and department shall: (1) establish a standardized pre-kindergarten curriculum for all program participants; (2) partner with current providers of pre-kindergarten services in gateway communities, who shall include, but is not limited to, public, private, and faith-based educational programs; and (3) focus on the specific cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, cultural, and physical needs of the children in each gateway municipality.
(c) Each child who qualifies for the universal pre-kindergarten program established by this section shall be counted as a student of the school district in which the child attends the pre-kindergarten program, and shall be included as such a student for the purposes of calculating that district’s funding pursuant to chapter 70.
(d) The board and department shall provide vouchers to eligible households as necessary to fully implement the universal pre-kindergarten education program established by this section.
(e) The board shall adopt regulations relative to the requirements of this section.
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