January 24, 2013
Missouri must invest in preschool education, increase the school year to the national average, and expand the A+ program statewide, Governor says
Gov. Nixon outlines plans to improve educational opportunities for Missouri's students during visit to Parkway School District's Oak Brook Elementary School
BALLWIN, Mo. - Gov. Jay Nixon today visited Oak Brook Elementary School in the Parkway School District to recognize the district for its continued academic excellence. Parkway Public Schools have been accredited "with distinction" for 11 consecutive years by the State of Missouri.
During his visit, the Governor called for an increased investment in preschool education programs throughout the state, including new resources for pre-kindergarten programs in local school districts and for early childhood education initiatives such as Missouri's Early Head Start program.
"Early childhood education is a smart investment with a big return,"Gov. Nixon said. "Study after study confirms what parents and educators already know - that the first five years of a child's development have an impact that lasts a lifetime. By making sure our kids enter kindergarten ready to learn, we increase their prospects to graduate from high school, succeed in college, and prosper in the career of their choice."
Parkway School District offers full-day preschool programs at three locations within the district and half-day preschool programs at six locations within the district. The Parkway School District's Preschool Program gives children opportunities to explore, achieve, create and discover in a safe environment. Learning is guided and reinforced by teachers who are degreed and certified in early childhood education.
"Parkway Public Schools are home to excellent teachers, teaching outstanding students," said Parkway Schools Superintendent Keith Marty. "Our district has had tremendous success in offering quality pre-kindergarten programs to help youngsters become school-ready. This has improved our students' learning, and helped our district reach new levels of success. We applaud Gov. Nixon's commitment to early childhood education and his continued work to expand academic opportunities for all Missouri children."
Gov. Nixon is also calling for Missouri to extend its school year. Missouri's school year is currently only 174 days - the fourth shortest school year in the country.
"Extending the school year will give teachers more time to work with students so that they can study, learn and succeed academically,"Gov. Nixon said. "My budget for the upcoming fiscal year will build on our record investment last year in K-12 classrooms and include resources to support additional school days, because investing in our public schools is an investment in our kids and our economy."
The Governor also discussed his plan to help all Missouri schools achieve A+ designation by the end of this school year through an accelerated application process.
Under the A+ program, Missouri students can earn a scholarship to cover the cost of tuition and academic fees for two years at any public two-year community college or technical school in the state. To be eligible for the program, students must meet academic achievement standards, conduct and attendance requirements, and perform 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring service.
"This is the year we will give every Missouri student who has worked hard, played by the rules and is academically prepared the opportunity to earn an A+ scholarship no matter where they live,"Gov. Nixon said. "My budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014 will include funding to expand and expedite the A+ designation to every school district in Missouri."
Since Gov. Nixon took office, 148 schools have earned the A+ designation, bringing the state total to 402 public high schools in Missouri. Throughout his administration, Gov. Nixon has ensured that continued state funding is available to provide these scholarships for the record number of students participating in A+. For fiscal year 2014, the budget Gov. Nixon will propose later this month will include funding to support the A+ program statewide.
The Governor will detail additional legislative and economic priorities during his 2013 State of the State Address at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, to a joint session of the Missouri General Assembly. The Governor will present his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2014 that day to the General Assembly as well.