TRENTON – Twenty-seven school districts around New Jersey are receiving a portion of just over $26 million in state aid to establish or expand access to preschool programs starting next month.

The funding adds nearly 2,150 additional seats in preschool classrooms, increasing the state’s overall total to nearly 70,000.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal is to have the state eventually provide universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old – but that could take until 2030 and would have to be a priority shared by his successor. His term ends in January 2026, and he is constitutionally prohibited from seeking re-election in 2025.

“We know that providing children with access to preschool programs creates short- and long-term educational and economic benefits for families,” Murphy said. “When we invest in preschool education, we also invest in our youth and in the future success of the state of New Jersey for decades to come.”

The state requires the districts to be able to provide a high-quality preschool program, defined by 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.

The 2023 state budget includes $40 million for preschool expansion grants. The state said the remaining funds will be awarded in the future.

In addition to the expansion aid, the state is spending $950 million on preschool aid to 209 other school districts. Click here for a list of those districts.

In July, the Department of Education expanded the number of districts eligible for preschool expansion aid by including those in which at least 10% of students, rather than 20%, are from families with incomes low enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Fifteen of the 27 districts getting the expansion aid would not have been eligible if the 20% threshold was still in effect.

The districts receiving the preschool expansion funds are spread around 13 counties. Last year, those districts enrolled 779 half-day preschool students and 430 full-day preschoolers, compared with 4,104 kindergarteners.

Get our free mobile app

Here are the recipients and the amounts they are receiving:

Linwood in Atlantic County | $360,797

Ridgefield Park in Bergen County | $235,920

Eastampton in Burlington County | $548,400

Palmyra in Burlington County | $507,270

Mount Laurel in Burlington County | $1,562,610

Voorhees in Camden County | $1,002,410

Pine Hill in Camden County | $539,469

Winslow Township in Camden County | $2,329,944

Montclair in Essex County | $970,555

Nutley in Essex County | $1,228,170

West Orange in Essex County | $1,894,659

Pitman in Gloucester County | $972,648

Deptford in Gloucester County | $2,261,099

Woodbury in Gloucester County | $521,395

Kingwood in Hunterdon County | $154,429

Milford in Hunterdon County | $168,468

Howell in Monmouth County | $2,286,405

West Long Branch in Monmouth County | $249,426

Eagleswood in Ocean County | $527,448

Manchester in Ocean County | $3,076,056

Plumsted in Ocean County | $700,648

Prospect Park in Passaic County | $1,363,323

Alloway in Salem County | $364,743

Springfield in Union County | $1,219,050

Oxford in Warren County | $349,674

Pohatcong in Warren County | $322,776

Franklin in Warren County | $363,123

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

School aid for all New Jersey districts for 2022-23

The state Department of Education announced district-level school aid figures for the 2022-23 school year on Thursday, March 10, 2022. They're listed below, alphabetically by county. For additional details from the NJDOE, including specific categories of aid, click here.

LOOK: The states with the most UFO sightings

For each state, we’ve also included details of famous UFO sightings in that state. Of note is that almost three-quarters of all UFO sighting reports in the United States occur between 4 p.m. and midnight, and tend to peak between 9 and 10 p.m. Food for thought next time you're out scoping for alien life. Keep reading to see which states have had the most UFO sightings.

More From Beach Radio