At today’s New Jersey Education Association Convention in Atlantic City, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the awarding of $51.9 million in federal grant funding from the state to 23 school districts to support 30 projects that will enable the creation, expansion, and renovation of preschool facilities statewide.
One of the challenges that certain school districts have identified as an obstacle in establishing high-quality preschool has been a lack of adequate facilities. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget included $120 million for grants for preschool facilities expansion, supported by federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars – marking the first time that preschool facility expansion grants were available to Regular Operating Districts.
“This funding will enable more districts to expand their capacity to offer full-day preschool programming to more students, building upon our efforts to provide every 3- and 4-year-old child in our state with access to high-quality pre-K,” said Murphy. “Equitable access to early childhood education across the board is key to ensuring the long-term success of our children and our state as a whole. My administration will continue to work toward bringing free, full-day pre-K to every district throughout New Jersey.”
“Governor Murphy’s preschool facilities grant funding underscores our commitment to delivering high-quality, full-day preschool across the state,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of Education. “Ultimately, this funding will increase capacity, a barrier that some communities have faced in the effort to bring high-quality preschool to each community. This funding will also support our initiative to ensure that school districts can provide an enriching, high-quality preschool environment for the benefit of generations of students for years to come.”
The 30 projects that have qualified for these preliminary grants had a total need of nearly $113.5 million in estimated project costs. Of that amount, the New Jersey Department of Education will cover approximately $51.9 million as the state’s share of preschool facilities in those districts; the state share is set at a minimum of 40 percent of the total estimated project costs.
“We know that expanded early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make in our children’s success and our future prosperity as a state,” said New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) President Sean M. Spiller. “As a matter of equity and educational justice, we need to keep expanding those opportunities until every family that wants pre-k has access to it. We commend Gov. Murphy for his commitment, which we know will pay dividends for generations to come.”
A second round of funding may be announced at a later date with the remaining funding for preschool facility grants.
Preliminary award amounts including both the state and local share for each project range from approximately $113,000 to over $13 million.
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