EATONTOWN — From Cape May to Sussex County, 33 school districts in New Jersey are the newest recipients of preschool aid, aimed to help them expand or even create high-quality programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.

During a visit to Woodmere Elementary School on Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced a second round of state funding — $26.9 million — that's expected to benefit 2,320 children in 2019. In September 2018, Murphy announced the allocation of $20.6 million to 31 districts that already had preschool programs in place.

"This traunch has a batch of districts that don't necessarily have prior experience in running pre-K," Murphy told a crowd in the school's library. "But there is still a needs requirement; in this case, that a minimum of 20 percent of kids are on free or reduced lunch, as a measure of poverty."

A commitment of $83 million was made to New Jersey's youngest learners in Murphy's first budget.

"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 state Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet. "Expanding and investing in preschool education is vitally important for the development of childhood education."

Murphy announced the school district in Eatontown, which covers Woodmere Elementary, would be receiving $314,175 in state funding that allows 30 young children to attend a high-quality preschool program. Among other features, a "high-quality" program includes class sizes of 15 children who are instructed by a certified teacher and an aide.

"Through these expanded pre-K programs, we're also making New Jersey a more compelling place to raise a family," Murphy added.

Governor's Office

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