Back-to-school special: NJ awards $20M to expand preschool
UNION CITY – Twenty-eight school districts will receive $20 million in additional state aid to establish or expand preschool programs, officials announced Tuesday.
Districts in 17 of the state’s 21 counties – all except Bergen, Cumberland, Somerset and Warren – are receiving the additional aid. The funding includes $2.8 million for Sayreville, $2.7 million for Kearny, $1.5 million for Gloucester Township, $1.2 million for Dover and $1 million for Buena Regional.
All told, the funding will expand preschool enrollment by around 1,450 children this school year, the Murphy administration said. The money will arrive in districts Oct. 1.
“The National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs has estimated that for every $1 that we invest in a child at the very beginning of their educational life, we recoup up to $9 in overall return as they grow up,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
“We know that increasing the general knowledge and vocabulary of a child before they enter the first grade is the single highest correlate with later success. But we can’t wait until kindergarten to address the deficiencies with which many children arrive,” he said.
State Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, said over a lifetime, the return can be $13 for every $1 spent on preschool.
“That’s because the income of the growth of that success of that child grows exponentially, and the remediation in the academic field shrinks,” Ruiz said. “And so you see this cost factor that you see this savings and you see a growth in the potential of the child.”
Funding was announced for these districts:
- Buena Regional
- Beverly City
- Burlington Township
- Edgewater Park
- Gloucester Township
- High Bridge
- Middle Township
- Mount Ephraim
- National Park
- Ocean Township (Monmouth)
- Ocean Township (Ocean)
- Somers Point
- Woodland Park
Fourteen of the 28 districts receiving the expansion aid were already receiving preschool funding through the Department of Education.
In all, the state is now providing $801 million in preschool education aid for the 2019-20 school year. Preschool aid is sent to 194 school districts, roughly one-third of all the districts in the state.