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NJ advocates pushing hard for long-awaited preschool expansion

March 20, 2017
Dino Flammia
NJ 1015

Will New Jersey short-change its youngest students once again? That’s the concern from groups pushing for expansion of state-funded preschool — a move that was promised nearly a decade ago but never actually happened.

As state lawmakers determine their financial priorities during budget season, and may also tackle the issue of inequities in the school funding formula, a multi-million dollar campaign is underway from Pre-K Our Way, a New Jersey nonprofit devoted to expanding access to the state’s high-quality public preschool program.

Currently, only 35 districts have access to it, according to spokesman Sam Crane, despite a 2008 state law to expand the program to more low-income communities. Crane said more than 100 communities are eligible for the program but are still shut out.

“Fifty thousand children have been waiting every year since 2008 for this expansion,” Crane told New Jersey 101.5. “Our goal is to get that law implemented in the next year and a half.”