Good public schools and increased K-12 funding are vital to Missouri's ability to compete and create jobs, Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday during a visit to Eldon High School.
Nixon discussed his "Good Schools, Good Jobs" plan, which would set the state on track to fully fund the K-12 foundation formula in two years.
"Attracting good jobs to Missouri starts with investing in good schools like the ones here in Eldon," Nixon said. "The competition for the jobs of the future is no longer local or regional or even national. The competition is global. The most important factor in determining whether we're going to win this high-stakes competition is the education you're getting right here in Eldon."
The "Good Schools, Good Jobs" plan is part of Nixon's Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal, which would increase K-12 classroom funding by $278 million statewide and put the state on a path to fully funding the foundation formula by fiscal 2016. The foundation formula, passed into law in 2005, establishes the state's funding level for K-12 schools.
The plan would increase funding for Eldon schools by more than $634,000, which the district would use to hire an additional preschool teacher and to make significant technology upgrades.
"Here in Eldon, we are committed to providing every child with the skills they need to succeed in the classroom today so they are ready for a career in the future," said Eldon Superintendent Matt Davis. "Gov. Nixon's "Good Schools, Good Jobs' will allow us to invest in areas we know will improve student outcomes - early childhood education and technology in the classroom."
Technology upgrades for the Eldon R-1 School District would include making wireless
Internet access more reliable and increasing connection speed between buildings.
"Missouri had the fastest technology job growth in the nation last year," Nixon said. "To prepare our graduates for careers in next-generation jobs like these, we must make sure our schools have the resources they need."
Missouri gained 2,700 technology positions in 2013, an increase of 8.4 percent, in the category of Professional and Business Services, Computer Systems Design and Related Services, according to an analysis by Dice.com of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nixon also noted a need for clearer goals and higher expectations in education to help students become skilled workers, starting with the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) 5 standards and Common Core, which work for higher test scores, higher graduation rates and a more rigorous curriculum.
"To reach those higher standards, our schools need resources," he said. "That means money to buy new technology, to train teachers, to shrink class sizes and to implement more challenging courses."
Nixon foresees the "Good Schools, Good Jobs" plan's chief opposition to be among those who seek to cut taxes.