General Business

Preschool to 26 More School Districts Via $25M in Aid

Acting Governor Tahesha Way today joined the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) and other state officials at the Estelle V. Malberg Early Childhood Center in Cherry Hill to announce that twenty-six school districts are receiving a total of $24,903,130 in Preschool Expansion Aid (PEA) to establish or expand access to preschool programs in the 2023-2024 school year.

This round of funding will add more than 1,715 seats to New Jersey’s expanding preschool system, significantly bolstering access to high-quality preschool programs and building on the Murphy administration’s efforts to provide every three- and four-year-old child in New Jersey with access to free, full-day pre-K.

“Providing children with access to preschool programs not only sets our students up for success, but also yields both short- and long-term economic benefits for their families and communities,” said Acting Governor Way. “By investing in preschool education, we are investing in our youth and in the future prosperity of New Jersey. Today’s announcement is another step toward Governor Murphy’s goal of providing universal preschool and a brighter future for New Jersey’s youngest learners.”

“Governor Murphy’s continued prioritization of high-quality preschool gives many young children an opportunity to attend preschool and reap the benefits of starting school earlier,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of Education. “Our vision is to create an educational landscape where every child, regardless of their background, can thrive from the very beginning of their academic journey. This investment not only expands preschool seats but also opens doors to greater educational and life opportunities for our state’s future leaders.”

“We are pleased that the state is continuing to make investments in early childhood education through Preschool Expansion Aid,” said Althea Ford, vice president, government affairs at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. “NJBIA is a firm supporter of strategic investments in our state’s economic infrastructure, of which education is a vital component. Investments like this support the “now” generation of parents in the workforce who rely on quality programs for their children, and strengthen the “next” generation of valuable contributors to our state’s workforce.”

The 2023-2024 school shifts how state funds for preschool are allocated. Last year the application process was available only to districts with 10% or more of student enrollment from low-income families; this year marks the first time any school district has been able to apply for state preschool-expansion funding. Applications for PEA are reviewed and scored by a panel at the NJDOE.

The grant awardees announced today demonstrated to the NJDOE their capacity to provide a high-quality preschool program, which is defined by a full-day program that has a certificated teacher, an aide, and small classes that are inclusive of children with special needs. The 26 new high-quality preschool programs will start by January 2024.

The Fiscal Year 2024 State Budget included an increase of nearly $110 million in preschool funding compared to the prior year, for a total of $1.1 billion. The increased funding supports prior preschool expansion districts, and includes $40 million to expand high-quality, full-day programs into new districts while also supporting other preschool expansion needs.

According to NJBIA’s Ford, “The state can further demonstrate its commitment to increasing opportunity and access to affordable and quality early childhood programs by supporting innovative private-public solutions like Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz’s comprehensive childcare bill package.”

The following is a list of the 26 school districts benefiting from PEA funding for preschool programs, and their awards:




Bergen Carlstadt


Burlington Florence


Burlington Hainesport


Burlington Medford


Camden Cherry Hill


Camden Magnolia *


Cape May West Cape May


Gloucester Elk Township *


Hunterdon Clinton Glen Gardner


Hunterdon Clinton Township


Hunterdon East Amwell


Hunterdon Flemington-Raritan


Hunterdon Franklin Township


Hunterdon Frenchtown


Hunterdon Readington


Middlesex Dunellen


Middlesex Highland Park *


Monmouth Oceanport


Morris Mine Hill


Ocean Lacey Township


Sussex Hardyston


Sussex Lafayette


Sussex Sparta


Sussex Sussex-Wantage


Union Garwood


Warren Washington Township




* Denotes districts that previously operated preschool programs via state Early Childhood Program Aid (ECPA) and the Early Launch to Learning Initiative (ELLI) funding. The 2023-2024 State preschool aid will allow them to expand to a high-quality preschool programTo access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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