DOVER — Support for early childhood education, mental health and school safety were among the chief topics during Thursday’s Joint Finance Committee hearing on public education.

The recommended budget for public education has a 5.35% increase from last fiscal year, bringing the proposed total for education to $1.65 billion.

For nearly four hours, the committee reviewed the proposed budget and heard more than 30 individuals discuss different facets of education programming.

Susan Bunting

As a portion of the overall funding, $25 million was earmarked for added support for needy students and mental health counselors through Opportunity Grant Funding.

As part of the Opportunity Fund, which would enter its second year, funding targets students who come from low-income homes or are English language learners. Secretary of

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