New regulations proposed by NJDOE will not ensure all children currently enrolled in Abbott preschool programs are in safe and adequate facilities. The regulations also fail to address the need to quickly build new classrooms to house the thousands of children not yet enrolled the program. These findings are contained in a Report on the proposed regulations issued by Education Law Center (ELC) on January 9, 2004.

The NJDOE proposed rules are under review by the State Board of Education. According to ELC, the proposed rules fail to:

Require plans for the new classrooms needed to house the estimated 18,383 three- and four-year olds in Abbott districts not enrolled in a preschool program in 2003-04. The current (1999-2005) district facilities plans — or “Long Range Facilities Plans (LRFP)” – do not address this urgent need.

Require an assessment of the safety and education adequacy of buildings leased or owned by community providers and Head Start programs. These buildings currently house 25,078 children, or almost 70% of those attending preschool in Abbott districts in 2003-04. The districts have yet to assess the condition of these buildings.

Authorize school construction funding for projects to upgrade and/or build new facilities for community providers and Head Start, as required by the Abbott rulings and the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act (EFCFA).

Under EFCFA, districts must prepare and submit new LRFPs for the next five year (2005-2010) construction cycle by October 2005. The preparation of new district LRPFs offers an ideal opportunity to address the urgent need for safe and adequate preschool facilities.

ELC is calling on the State Board to address the deficiencies in the proposed rules. According to ELC Executive Director David Sciarra, the rules must be revised to give all Abbott children the opportunity to attend high quality preschool programs, as mandated by the Supreme Court, and to ensure the safety and adequacy of all buildings currently leased or owned by community providers and Head Start programs.

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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
973-624-1815, x240