SECAUCUS, NJ — Secaucus school district received $1,583,647 from the NJ Department of Education to launch free, full-day PreK for children starting at age 3.

The Department of Education announced the funding Tuesday in this press release. Gov. Phil Murphy was also in Secaucus Tuesday, where he met with school superintendent Erick Alfonso and Mayor Mike Gonnelli.

Murphy chose Millridge School as the site from which to announce his statewide expansion in PreK funding, as Secaucus received one of the highest amounts of funding in the state.

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OK, so how will this work?

While the Secaucus school district intends to launch free PreK starting this September 2024, this initial round of funding can only accommodate about 100-115 kids.

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As reported before, the school district will use a lottery system. While details are still being worked out, parents can apply to the district to have their 3-year-old receive free, full-day PreK starting in September. Priority will be given to special-needs children, said Mayor Gonnelli.

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Gonnelli said it is his understanding the funding will increase every year. So in 2025, more Secaucus 3-year-olds will be approved. Superintendent Alfonso was not available to immediately confirm that.

Currently, Secaucus school district does provide PreK at Millridge School, but parents have to pay if they want it to be full day. Gonnelli said about 75 kids are currently enrolled at Millridge.

Also, full-day PreK will not be housed in one building, as it is now.

That $1.5 million from the state will be divided between the three private nursery schools in town, and the Secaucus school district:

The way it will work is those three private schools, and the Secaucus school district will get reimbursed from the $1.5 million for each kid approved by the lottery.

It was Alfonso who directed his staff to apply for the funding.

“Our recent acceptance of the Pre-K expansion aid marks a pivotal moment in offering free Pre-K to our families,” said Alfonso Tuesday. “In collaboration with our Mayor and town council, we are committed to expanding our district’s reach, to ensure that every family in Secaucus has access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs.”

As Patch previously reported, Gov. Murphy wants every town in New Jersey to have universal PreK. He has long stated his goal of providing every three- and four-year-old child in New Jersey with access to free, full-day preschool. Murphy said this is an important goal of his time in office.

Alfonso and the Secaucus Board of Education are still considering building an expansion wing onto Clarendon Elementary to accommodate more elementary school students. But Mayor Gonnelli also said Tuesday the town and district are also “exploring other options,” but declined to elaborate.

Secaucus Schools Considering PreK Expansion At Clarendon (Feb. 16)

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