Gov. Phil Murphy last week visited Wayside Elementary School in Ocean Township to tour a new high-quality preschool program that benefited from this year’s state funding increase of more than $68 million for early childhood education.
“For the very first time, Ocean Township schools are receiving direct state aid for pre-K, allowing for an expansion of full-day classrooms to serve our youngest learners,” Murphy said. “Every dollar we invest in pre-K makes New Jersey a more affordable place for our middle-class and working families. Making this investment is how we maintain our position as a national leader in education and build a stronger and fairer economy that works for every family.”
As part of the preschool funding increase, the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget included $20 million in additional Preschool Education Aid to help 28 new school districts implement their early childhood education programs. This funding translates to approximately 1,450 additional seats statewide for children to attend a quality preschool program starting this month.
“We are grateful to Governor Murphy and the Legislature for supporting early childhood education in order for our youngest learners to have the support they need in order to succeed,” Ocean Township Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
“New Jersey has always been a leader in early childhood education, but over the past few years we have experienced the greatest expansion of high-quality preschool that this state has seen in decades,” said Dr. Lamont O. Repollet, Commissioner of Education. “It’s heartening to see our efforts improve the programming offered in schools and improve so many young lives.”
Ocean Township received $586,772 in Preschool Education Aid this year, allowing it to add three full-day, high-quality preschool classrooms serving a total of 45 children. The district will continue to transition its half-day program to a full-day program in future years. The move to this preschool entails a transition to a full-day program with a certificated teacher, an aide, and small classes that are inclusive of children with special needs who have an individualized education program.
This year’s expansion of preschool funding to serve an additional 1,450 children comes as a part of the Governor’s initiative to invest in high-quality preschool while growing a stronger and fairer economy that works for every family.
“Early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make,” said Sen. Vin Gopal. “When we give our kids a comprehensive educational foundation, we put them on the best foot forward for future success at school and in their careers. I was glad to join the Governor today to see just how impactful these investments have been for our children and our communities, and I’m excited to see how this funding will help the students and families of Ocean Township schools.”
“Research shows attending preschool helps students build the skills they need to help them succeed academically and socially throughout their school careers,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. “With this additional funding, more children in the Ocean Township school district will have access to preschool and its benefits. This important investment in our schools will help set our young students on a path to reach their fullest potential.”
“Before this school year, Ocean Township schools were only able to offer preschool classes to a very limited number of students,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey. “I am thrilled Ocean was one of 28 districts selected to receive increased state aid to help expand its quickly growing program.”