Gov. Phil Murphy announced that 10 additional school districts will receive Preschool Education Aid totaling $10M in the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget to implement or expand quality early childhood education programs in their communities starting February 1, 2021. This expansion will increase the number of preschool seats in awarded districts by 818 high-quality preschool seats while also enhancing the quality of their existing seats.
“In New Jersey, we know that quality early education paves the path toward success for our children,” said Governor Murphy. “During this unprecedented time, we continue to prioritize the future of our youngest learners and this investment helps to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
“In concert with prevailing early childhood research, we recognize that providing our youngest learners with high-quality early education will have long-lasting benefits to the children served, their families, and the communities in which they reside,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “Therefore, we are ecstatic that the Governor has made high-quality early childhood education a priority again this year. We are extremely excited to work with the 10 school districts awarded these funds to increase the number of children they serve, expand the length of their program day, and anchor their services in research-based practices.”
“Studies show that access to early childhood education has a lifelong impact on a student’s academic career,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Today’s investment in our next generation will benefit us for years to come. I am grateful for Governor Murphy’s continued commitment to investing in our youngest learners and I look forward to the day when every child in New Jersey has access to universal preschool.”
“I am pleased that so many additional school districts will be able to benefit from preschool education funding in this fiscal year’s budget,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. “Preschool helps children grow by promoting educational, emotional and social development, boosting cognitive and motor skills, and preparing them for future academic success. Using this financial aid to implement and expand preschool programs will help ensure that more students receive the early childhood education they deserve. This is another way New Jersey is showing our commitment to quality education for the children throughout our state.”
“The addition of these school districts continues the four-year commitment of the Governor and Legislature to invest in our youngest learners by expanding New Jersey’s high-quality pre-K program,” said Sam Crane from Pre-K Our Way.
Research has shown that quality preschool programming results in long-term benefits, ranging from improved academics throughout a child’s schooling to a greater likelihood of entering college after high school. Under the Murphy Administration, New Jersey has increased the number of state-funded high-quality preschool seats to nearly 65,000 students. Enrolled preschool students are provided with a full-day program with a certified teacher, an aide, and small classes inclusive of children with special needs who have an individualized education program.
As in years past, school districts that were eligible to receive a Preschool Expansion Aid award included those that had previously received partial state funding to address pockets of poverty or are based in communities that have at least 20 percent of their student population receiving free or reduced price lunch.