CARTERET — More than 30 school districts in the Garden State are the first to receive funding for preschool expansion under Gov. Phil Murphy, who on Tuesday visited one of the districts benefiting from the funds.

"We are challenging a status quo that says we can only educate children from K through 12," Murphy said during a press conference at Columbus School.

On top of $33 million in preschool education aid, Murphy's Fiscal Year 2019 budget included $50 million for preschool education expansion. The boost represented the largest increase in pre-K funding in over a decade.

For the first round of funding, the Department of Education targeted districts that have previously received partial state aid and could implement expansion plans by next month.

The Carteret school has been able to convert its part-day preschool classes to full-day sessions, and opened the door to an additional 200 4-year-old kids alone.

"Becoming a full-day program gives us the opportunity to provide children a safe place where they're educated with the most up-to-date curriculum and developmentally appropriate practices," said pre-K teacher Katie Santoro. "As teachers, we now have the time, resources and support personnel to meet each child at their current level and help them progress."

The state expects to award the second round of expansion aid — for which they're currently accepting applications — in early October. Distribution of the funding is based on districts' populations of low-income students.

The governor said his administration hopes to see preschool expansion in every New Jersey district "over the next number of years."

Districts awarded round-one funding include:

preschool funding list
NJ Governor's Office

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