In Union City, Murphy announces expanded pre-K programs, including another $2.5M for Kearny

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Kearny is set to receive more than $2.5 million to expand its preschool program, one of 28 other districts across the state to receive additional funding, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced during a press conference this morning.


Speaking at the Eugenio Maria De Hostas Center For Early Childhood Education in Union City, which has approximately 300 preschoolers enrolled, the governor announced that the 28 school districts would be receiving a total of $20 million as part of the 2020 state budget.

“Why do families stay here and come here? Why do businesses choose to come here? The biggest piece of the puzzle is public education and providing superior and accessible education from the earliest years right up through higher education,” he said.

Kearny had the second highest allocation of funding with $2,661,345 for this year, behind only Sayreville who will receive a net gain of $2,799,800.

Kearny Mayor Al Santos called the new funding “a welcome addition,” but said the town’s school district is still underfunded under the state’s antiquated school funding formula.

“In terms of allocation of school aid monies, the town is still underfunded where we should be under the formula,” Santos said. “[But] it’s a welcome addition and it goes part of the way in addressing the underfunding from the state.”

Kearny Superintendent Patricia Blood could not immediately be reached for comment.

Murphy was joined alongside several local dignitaries, including state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Assembly members Raj Mukerji and Annette Chaparro (both D-33), and New Jersey Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet.

Calling Union City “a model” for preschool programs, Murphy lauded the city “where tremendous work has been done to enhance the school district’s preschool program.”

The district has approximately 1,800 students in preschool programs, be it directly through the district or through partnerships with private programs that receive oversight, funding and curriculum from the district.

Union City’s program was first started in 2004, when it initially had 400 students in its preschool program.

“Studies have shown that children who are enrolled in pre-k are better prepared for grade school, and therefore are set up to have a more successful education,” Stack said.

“The earlier we can help our children succeed in school, the better off they will be when they are older.”

Overall, more than 1,400 children statewide will benefit from the funding increase, according to Repollet.

“Too often we focus on the numbers, but we must remember that these are real children, real lives, and real families whose lives are being improved by our efforts,” he said after the presser.

 

Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_