Gov. Jay Nixon today visited Canton R-V High School to recognize the school for its continued academic excellence. Canton R-V Schools have been accredited "with distinction" for seven consecutive years by the State of Missouri.
During his visit, the Governor discussed the more than $150 million in new education funding he included in his budget proposal to the General Assembly. This record increase in funding includes an additional $17 million for early childhood education, more than $100 million in additional funding for K-12 classrooms, and a four percent increase of $34 million for colleges and universities. The Governor's budget also includes funding to expand the A+ Schools program statewide.
"As a result of our relentless focus on fiscal discipline and job creation, businesses are hiring, our economy is growing, and unemployment has dropped to a four-year low," Gov. Nixon said. "As we continue to balance the budget and make government more efficient, we now have an opportunity to make smart, strategic investments in education that will expand opportunities for students and strengthen our economy for years to come."
The additional $17 million for early childhood education Gov. Nixon has proposed will more than double funding for the Missouri Preschool program, provide a $3.5 million increase for Early Head Start and a $3.5 million increase for grants to assist child care providers improve their services.
"Early childhood education is proven to boost achievement in school and improve opportunities later in life - in other words, it's a smart investment with a big return," Gov. Nixon said. "These additional funds will help that every young child in our state comes to school ready to learn and ready to succeed."
The more than $100 million in additional funding for K-12 classrooms will help to train more teachers, modernize classrooms and extend Missouri's school year. Missouri's school year is currently only 174 days - the fourth-shortest school year in the country. Under Gov. Nixon's proposal, Missouri's school year will be extended to the national average of at least 180 days.
"Over the past four years my administration has made public education a top priority and as a result, test scores are up and Missouri's graduation rate is seventh highest in the nation," Gov. Nixon said. "With this additional funding - and additional time in the classroom - our public schools can reach even higher goals."
The additional $34 million for higher education will be allocated to Missouri's public two- and four-year institutions on how well each institution achieves specific goals. Those goals include increased student retention, higher graduation rates and improved learning. Under Gov. Nixon's proposal, Missouri's A+ scholarship program will also be extended to every school district in Missouri.
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.
These funding increases were included in the Governor's recommended balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which has been presented to the General Assembly.