On Feb. 22, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the availability of $120 million in grants for preschool facility expansion and highlighted the funding 16 school districts recently received to establish or grow their preschool programming.

Alongside Acting Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan, Sen. Andrew Zwicker, Assemblyman Roy Freiman, and other officials at Brooks Crossing and Deans Elementary School in Monmouth Junction, the governor also announced an additional $2.6 million to assist 33 school districts with supplementary start-up funding.

Providing free early childhood education to every three and four-year-old in New Jersey remains an important goal of the Murphy Administration. Since Murphy took office, high-quality preschool programs have been introduced to over 160 school districts, opening seats for more than 12,000 additional children.

“Expanding access to free, full-day preschool programs represents an investment in the future of New Jersey’s children,” Murphy said. “More families are benefiting from our increased support for early childhood education every year. A quality preschool education provides students with the foundational skills they need to learn and succeed as they advance through life, which is why we must – and will – continue to work towards universal pre-K throughout New Jersey.”

“Today’s announcement represents another step in Governor Murphy’s efforts to expand access to preschool education by adding 16 more communities to the list of those that now have a high-quality preschool option,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education. “The preschool facilities grants are another important part of these efforts, and a first for New Jersey. Adequate preschool facilities can often be one of the obstacles that school districts face in implementing high-quality programs, so this funding will help more school communities overcome those barriers.”

Preschool Facilities Grants

The $120 million in grant funding – made possible through an allocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars in the fiscal year 2023 budget – marks the first time that preschool facility expansion grants will be available to regular operating districts.

The New Jersey Department of Education will be accepting grant applications from regular operating districts from March 1 to May 31, 2023.

Eligible proposals will be prioritized by category in the following order:

  1. Proposals to increase available preschool seats by at least 10%, ranked by percentage of increased seats.
  2. Proposals to enhance preschool facilities by increasing the capacity of existing classrooms or by constructing/rehabilitating restrooms.
  3. Proposals to expand preschool programs from a half-day to a full day.
  4. Proposals to expand classroom capacity to house new preschool programs and guarantee additional seats.

Preschool Expansion and Start-Up Funding

The more than $11.4 million recently allocated to 16 school districts to create or expand their preschool programming during the 2022-2023 school year has enabled the addition of 1,081 full-day, high-quality preschool seats.

The following school districts received a portion of the $11,412,493 in total funding:

  • Atlantic County – Folsom School District – $165,322.
  • Bergen County – Little Ferry School District – $1,245,045.
  • Burlington County – Washington Township School District – $82,260.
  • Burlington County – Westampton Township School District – $456,765.
  • Camden County – Gibbsboro School District – $582,793.
  • Camden County – Lawnside School District – $382,840.
  • Cumberland County – Downe Township School District – $445.
  • Gloucester County – South Harrison Township School District – $621,414.
  • Middlesex County – South Brunswick Township School District – $2,041,95.
  • Middlesex County – South Plainfield School District – $1,765,380.
  • Monmouth County – Allenhurst School District – $13,857.
  • Morris County – Jefferson Township School District – $1,034,483.
  • Ocean County – Island Heights School District – $188,636.
  • Salem County – Andover Regional School District – $522,310.
  • Sussex County – Elsinboro Township School District – $108,072.
  • Union County – Linden City School District – $2,200,915.

In addition to the $11.4 million for the second round of preschool expansion aid this school year, an additional $2.6 million in start-up funding was made available to six of the 16 school districts that had been operating partially state-funded preschool at the start of the school year (Folsom, Little Ferry, Lawnside, Downe, South Plainfield, and Linden), as well as all 27 districts from the first round of the fiscal year 2023 awards announced earlier this school year, which began operating their full-day programs in October.