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New Jersey's Poorest Districts Get More Pre-K Money

Yesterday, the Education Law Center, which represents the plaintiffs in New Jersey's Abbott school funding case, announced that New Jersey has increased pre-K funds to its 31 poorest districts to comply with the preschool aid component of the state's education funding formula.

The budget signed by Gov. Chris Christie in July increased K-12 money by $450 million for urban students and $300 million for other districts, but included no additional preschool money. In May, Christie's attempt to cut school funding by $1.6 billion was ruled unconstitutional by the state's Supreme Court, and the court ordered funds restored to the state's poorest schools. In June, Christie vetoed a budget that would have increased state education funding by $1.1 billion, which would have fully funded 221 districts in beyond the 31 poorest.

The new increase for preschool totals $7.9 million. According to a chart released by the law center, Paterson City received the largest share of the funds, at $1.2 million.

"We are pleased that Attorney General Dow moved quickly to direct the State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff and Acting Commissioner Christopher Cerf to fully comply with the Abbott XXI order, which includes increasing aid for critically needed preschool programs in our poorest communities," Elizabeth Athos, ELC Senior Attorney, said in the announcement. "This aid will enable community providers, Head Start, and public school classrooms to maintain the quality that has made the Abbott preschool program the nation's best."

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