January 23, 2013 - Gov. Jay Nixon's fiscal 2014 budget proposal will include resources to support additional school days.
Nixon's comments were made today — Jan. 24 — during a visit to Oak Brook Elementary School in the Parkway School District to recognize the district for its continued academic excellence, according to a news release. Parkway Public Schools have been accredited "with distinction" for 11 consecutive years by the state of Missouri.
Nixon 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," Nixon stated in the release. "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."
Nixon also is calling for Missouri to extend its school year. Missouri's school year currently is 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," Nixon stated. "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," Nixon stated in the release. "My budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 will include funding to expand and expedite the A+ designation to every school district in Missouri."
Since Nixon took office, 148 schools have earned the A+ designation, bringing the state total to 402 public high schools in Missouri. Throughout his administration, Nixon has ensured that continued state funding is available to provide these scholarships for the record number of students participating in A+, according to the release. For fiscal 2014, the budget Nixon will propose later this month will include funding to support the A+ program statewide.
Nixon 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 2014 that day to the General Assembly as well.