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Preschool expansion slated in Princeton

With $770,939 in additional state aid in hand, the Princeton Public Schools is planning to double the number of free preschool classrooms – from two preschool classes to four preschool classes – as of Oct. 1.

The Princeton Public Schools already offers free, preschool classes – one each at Riverside School and Johnson Park School – for general education students. Now, there will be a preschool class at Community Park School and another one – in a cooperative venture – at the Princeton YWCA.

All of the preschool classes are free of charge, but a child must be 3 years old or 4 years old by Oct. 1 to be eligible to apply to attend.

The new Community Park School preschool classroom is a dual language immersion class, in which preschoolers will be taught in both English and Spanish. There are a total of 15 seats available for 3- and 4-year old children.

“The Spanish language immersion class at Community Park School supports our goal towards bilingualism for all students who enroll in the immersion program,” said Steve Cochrane, the superintendent of schools.

The second preschool class is earmarked for 3-year-old children, which will be held at the Princeton YWCA through a partnership with that organization on Paul Robeson Place. There will be 15 seats available in the class.

The school district’s partnership with the Princeton YWCA means it can offer more programming that supports families, said Valerie Ulrich, who is the coordinator of special programs in the school district.

“Free public preschool is widely recognized as an important path towards closing the (academic) achievement gap. This is an exciting opportunity for the Princeton Public Schools,” said Cochrane, the superintendent of schools.

The New Jersey Department of Education has emphasized the need for universal preschool for children. The state’s FY 2020 budget provides $806 million in preschool education aid – including $20 million for expansion of high quality preschool programs.

“When we learned of Princeton’s eligibility to apply for additional funding, we started mapping out our expanded program right away,” Ulrich said. “I am so pleased that our district was selected for funding (to expand the free preschool program).”

A preschool information session has been set for Sept. 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Princeton YWCA at 59 Paul Robeson Place.

For more information, contact Valerie Ulrich at valerieulrich@princetonk12.org, or 609-806-4203, ext. 2044.

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