South River schools will extend pre-kindergarten program


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SOUTH RIVER–Members of the New Jersey 18th Legislative District have awarded the South River Public School District $683,640 to further expand its pre-kindergarten program.

“Early childhood education is critical in introducing children to learning environments where they can begin developing the skills necessary to succeed in later education. I look forward to seeing the South River School District take full advantage of these state resources to help achieve that goal,” Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex) said in a prepared statement from the district.

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“There is extensive research that shows the major benefits of early childhood education through pre-school education. We believe that South River students can enter kindergarten much better prepared if they have the opportunity to participate in full-day pre-school. Additionally, many of our students are English Language Learners and will benefit greatly from early exposure and instruction in English,” Superintendent Sylvia Zircher said.

This second round of Pre-School Education Expansion Aid (PEEA) funding follows an announcement made by Gov. Phil Murphy in September of 2018 that allocated $20.6 million in PEEA to expand existing preschool programs for more than 2,000 children in another 31 school districts, according to the statement.

“The grant funding will be used for all aspects of the program including staffing, furniture, instructional resources, teacher professional development, supplies and materials, as well as an expansion of our playground equipment,” Zircher said.

In this second round of expanded funding, approximately $27 million will be distributed to 33 school districts, which serve more than 2,300 3- and 4-year olds. To qualify for funding, districts needed to have at least 20 percent of its students receiving free or reduced lunch. PEEA has now funded 64 school districts and helped more than 4,400 preschoolers in the state, according to the statement.

Zircher said the district began receiving funds in October and the first day of its new full-day pre-school was Jan. 2.

“Before the expansion, the district offered half day tuition based pre-school to about 30 students. We are now serving 90 students in a tuition-free full-day program. The district went through a rigorous process to apply for this grant which required a projected program plan and budget,” Zircher said. “These efforts have paid off as our application was approved and we now have the opportunity to provide a great service to our community’s children and families.”

Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-18) praised the award in the statement, saying, “I’m glad that children in South River will now have access to the same pre-k curriculum that students in neighboring school districts have. It’s important that we keep fighting for state aid to ensure equal educational opportunity across the 18th district.”

Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex) said in the statement, “Research has shown that the earlier we invest in our children’s education, the more likely they are to succeed throughout their academic careers. This funding will ensure that more of New Jersey’s young students will have the tools to realize their full potential. We are glad that we were able to bring this opportunity to more families in South River.”


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