img_9861072309Superintendent Laura Morana in her office in July.

Red Bank schools Superintendent Laura Morana is urging Governor-elect Chris Christie get a up-close look at the district’s pre-kindergarten program before taking a scalpel to the state budget, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

The district is one of only five statewide participating in a pilot program to establish early education curricula outside of the 31 economically troubled so-called ‘Abbott‘ districts. Red Bank got $2 million from the state Department of Education for an expansion of its program to 165 students this year, from 15 three-year-olds last year, and Morana had hoped to increase enrollment to 225 next September, the Press reports.

During his campaign to replace Gov. Jon Corzine as the state’s chief executive, Christie derided pre-k programs as state-funded babysitting, the Press says. But Red Bank’s program has been won positive reviews from researchers at Harvard, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities for its benefits in boosting academic achievements in early school years, Morana says.

From the Press:

“We have data for the last three years of kids who started the program, into the second grade, 90 percent of them are meeting all the standards,” Morana said. “If children have a solid education from prekindergarten to grade three, they’re guaranteed to be successful. We have the data to support it.”

Morana tells the Press that she hopes Christie will pay the district a visit before he takes office in January, adding, “I don’t know how many preschool programs he’s visited, but we have a high-quality program. I want to share our experience with him.”