The fiscal year 2023 annual appropriations act includes a $120 million allocation of Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund dollars that were established pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for the expansion of preschool facilities.
In a joint broadcast, the New Jersey Schools Development Authority and the New Jersey Department of Education announced that under the Preschool Facilities Expansion program, regular operating districts are eligible to receive at a minimum 40% of approved eligible project costs. The funding percentage for a grant is based upon your district aid percentage multiplied by the eligible project costs established by the New Jersey Department of Education. Districts must be able to demonstrate local matching funds for the balance of the project costs.
Approvable projects are limited to those that expand a current educational facility (adding preschool classrooms/seats) and renovations of existing facilities with limitations. Specifically, these will only be allowed if the district can demonstrate sufficient capacity for other grades and that the renovation would result in a net increase in available preschool seats.
For preschool expansion projects to be considered for grant funding, the proposed scope of work must be 100% eligible for state support and be included in one the priorities listed below. Once a project has been determined by the NJDOE to be 100% eligible in scope, it will be categorized in one of the listed project areas. If the proposed scope of work is applicable to more than one project area, the project will be placed in the lower sub-ranking priority. Projects that would require a referendum to raise the local share will not be considered at this time. For districts seeking projects that would require a local referendum, debt service aid is available to provide state support for projects through NJDOE.
Project Priority List
- Increase in number of available preschool seats: First priority will be given to projects that demonstrate an ability to increase the number of available preschool seats by adding at least 10% of the district’s landscape. Projects will be ranked within this priority category by percentage of increase compared to other applications. Projects include, but are not limited to, construction of additional PreK classrooms in existing school buildings.
- Facility enhancements: Projects in this priority level include but are not limited to rehabilitation of existing preschool classrooms to meet square footage requirements tiered at 950 square feet, 750 square feet, and 700 square feet, and construction or rehabilitation of toilet rooms in classrooms.
- Expansion of ECPA/ELLI Programs: Projects that support the expansion of half-day programs in existing ECPA/ELLI districts to full-day programs meeting department facility requirements.
- New preschool programs: Projects that include expansion of existing school buildings or rehabilitation of existing classrooms that would ultimately house new preschool programs (guaranteeing future seats).
The preschool expansion projects open application period is March 1, 2023, to May 31, 2023.
A complete project application must be received by the Office of School Facilities Projects via the Electronic Web Enabled Grants System in the NJDOE’s Homeroom webpage by 5 p.m. on May 31, 2023, to be considered for grant funding. It is recommended that districts submit their application prior to this deadline.
Please refer to the OSFP webpage for more information on the submission process, including the project application and transmittal requirements.
In a Feb. 23 news release, the governor’s office recapped how $11.4 million was allocated during the 2022-2023 school year, enabling the addition of 16 school districts to add 1,081 full-day, high quality preschool seats.
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.