NJ Gov. Phil Murphy proposes full day pre-K in every school district

TRENTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is proposing an ambitious education plan that includes expanding pre-K to every child in the state and offering two years of free community college.

26 schools in New Jersey provide full day pre-K, part of the state's stepped up commitment to early childhood education that is available to 3,500 3 and 4-year-olds.

"It's probably the smartest investment we can make," said Murphy. "It's a hard one to convince people because it pays off over decades. But that doesn't make it less worthy."

Gov. Murphy wants full day pre-K in every school district. Jamesburg applied for a grant over the summer, won it in September, and hit the ground running.

"We had a month to buy everything, hire teachers, hire aides, hire a supervisor of early childhood," said Jamesburg Superintendent Brian Betze. "It was a remakable turnaround. It took a village to get this program off the ground and running."

That included transforming a former media room at JFK Elementary School into a classroom. It was a big expansion from what JFK offered before the grant.

"We had two teachers teaching half day pre-school to about 44 students," said Principal Pamela Hernandez. "And since then we are up to close to 90 students."

A full day that includes learning Spanish, and Spanish-speaking students learning English in open and inclusive classrooms.

The district already has a waiting list for the next school year.

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