EATONTOWN, NJ -- In the state's second round of preschool funding, 33 school districts have been selected to expand half and full-day pre-K for students. The state has distributed $27 million in grant money to 15 counties.
Governor Phil Murphy announced this latest round of funding at Woodmere Elementary School in Eatontown Thursday.
“Expanding early childhood education is among the smartest investments we can make for the future of our state,” Murphy said.
The Governor is looking to make preschool universal in the state. He increased a series of state taxes in his first budget to bolster education funding.
“A child’s earliest years are a critical time during which rapid brain development occurs. These milestones inform their cognition, health and behavior throughout life,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “Expanding and investing in preschool education is vitally important for the development of childhood education."
The first day of school for pre-K students who got a slot in Eatontown's expanded program was on Jan. 2. It was a late start to the school year, but an early jump on their education. The grant money was received by the district in October.
"Oh my gosh, we’ve been trying to put in full day pre-school forever," said Debbie Nappi, supervisor of Special Services for Eatontown Schools. "We began ordering supplies, setting up our lottery, interviewing teachers."
Approximately 47 parents entered the lottery for full-day preschool in Eatontown, but only 17 students could be accepted, which speaks to the demand for more free pre-K among parents.
The Preschool Education Expansion Aid program provided 2,320 pre-K spots for children statewide.