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Nixon's goal of extending school year a worthy one

Mike Anthony
Executive Editor

January 16, 2013 - It's certainly no secret we've been less than impressed with Jay Nixon's performance as governor and attorney general.

During his tenure as attorney general from 1993 to 2009, Nixon pretty much turned a blind eye to enforcing the provisions of the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Act, better known as the Sunshine Law. As attorney general, Nixon had little interest in intervening in legal matters in south county — even when requested.

Perhaps Nixon's most egregious instance of refusing to intervene in a south county matter came in the late 1990s when Green Park's six-member Board of Aldermen was considering an ordinance to grant up to $4.5 million in tax-increment financing to Home Depot, and three aldermen voted in favor of the ordinance and three aldermen abstained.

To adopt the ordinance, then-Mayor Larry Kuban changed the abstentions to "no" votes to create a 3-3 board tie. After declaring the abstentions as "no" votes, Kuban cast the deciding vote in favor of the ordinance.

Many, including this newspaper, didn't believe Kuban's decision was lawful. The state's top law enforcement official — Nixon — was contacted and asked to intervene. He didn't.

After a lengthy court battle, a judge ruled the ordinance was not lawfully approved. Nixon could have intervened before the issue went to court, but he apparently had no interest in protecting the rights of Green Park residents.

As the state's governor since 2009, Nixon hasn't fared much better.

Amazingly, Nixon last week actually said something we agree with when he called for extending the state's school year by six days to the national average of 180 days.

Missouri's school year currently is only 174 days — the fourth shortest school year in the country.

Nixon's remarks came during a visit to the John Thomas School of Discovery and the Nixa School District's Early Learning Center to recognize the district for its continued academic excellence. The school year at the John Thomas School of Discovery currently is 194 days.

For the coming fiscal year, Nixon pledged to include in his budget "resources to support additional school days — because investing in our public schools is the right thing to do for our kids and our economy."

For once, we agree with Nixon. Who could be opposed to teachers spending more time in the classroom with students? After all, it's all about the children, right?

Tags: Opinions Column

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