This is a picture of Sen. Beth Bye
Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford (file photo) Arielle Levin Becker / The CT Mirror
This is a picture of Sen. Beth Bye
Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford (file photo) Arielle Levin Becker / The CT Mirror

Gov.-elect Ned Lamont tapped Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, to lead the state Office of Early Childhood.

Bye, who succeeds Commissioner David Wilkinson, will resign her post representing the 5th Senate District, which includes Burlington, Farmington, West Hartford and western Bloomfield. Bye’s appointment also means Senate Democratic leadership must appoint a new co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee.

Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill must schedule a special election to fill the 5th Senate District seat.

“Beth Bye has devoted her entire professional career to helping to build a more progressive and equitable early childhood system in which all children, regardless of their parent’s socioeconomic status, can grow, learn and develop,” said Lamont. “It’s clear that the formative early childhood years are key to providing children a solid educational base and platform, and I know Beth is the best person to take the helm of this critical agency.”

Bye, who served in the Senate from 2011 to the present and in the House from 2007 through 2010, will lead an office created in 2013 to coordinate and enhance various early childhood development programs and create a cohesive care system.

The West Hartford Democrat has been a long-time advocate for education, early childhood education, economic development and environmental issues in the General Assembly.

She was instrumental in strengthening the state’s partnership with the School for the Young Child in West Hartford, a private pre-school recognized as a national model for quality early childhood developmental programming. Assisted by state subsidies, the school offers financial assistance annually to ensure a portion of the students come from low-income households. Bye is a former director of the school.

“I am grateful to begin this next chapter in my career, leading an agency I helped to spearhead and create,” Bye said. “Connecticut’s children — all of them — represent the future of our state, and deserve to have the tools and support necessary to develop, grow and thrive. I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with the early childhood community and the K-12 system to assure the readiness of both young children and the schools that serve them alike.”

“I am enthusiastic about passing the reigns of OEC to Senator Beth Bye, a proven leader who has consistently been one of the state’s most effective and steadfast advocates for young children and their families,” said Wilkinson.

Bye currently is executive director of Auerfarm in Bloomfield, a community farm that hosts 15,000 student trips annually and partners with the Wintonbury Early Childhood Magnet School. Prior to that, Bye led Great by 8, a community partnership to develop a program that supports optimal health and educational outcomes for children ages birth to eight. Bye also served as the Early Childhood Director at the Capitol Region Education Council, otherwise known as CREC, where she supervised its birth-to-three program for CREC, and also helped to open two early childhood magnet schools.

Earlier in her career, Bye was the director at both the Trinity College Community Child Center and the University of St. Joseph School for Young Children, which was named a State of Connecticut model pre-school.

Bye will begin serving as the Commissioner-designate in late January. Her nomination will be sent to the General Assembly for its advice and consent.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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