Blunt introduces early education funding proposal in Ashland

Saturday, January 19, 2008 | 5:47 p.m. CST; updated 8:55 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

ASHLAND — Gov. Matt Blunt began his statewide tour Friday morning to promote his recommended $1.2 billion increase for education in Ashland.

Blunt spoke to teachers, parents and staff briefly at Southern Boone County Primary School about his education initiatives. His funding proposal includes a $2 million increase for the Parents as Teachers program for the next fiscal year.

“Parents as Teachers ensures all children to have a chance at success,” Blunt said.

Parents as Teachers allows “parent educators” to work with families in development and education of children from prenatal stages to kindergarten. Parent educators visit families’ homes every six weeks to talk about development milestones that children should — or could ­— be experiencing, said Scott Salmons, principal of Southern Boone County Primary School.

The program offers information on many topics, including nutrition and discipline. In addition, the school provides a resource classroom for parents to drop off their children so they can play with others in the program..

The program is free and available to parents in every Missouri school district.

“We are very proud of our school district and what we have to offer here at Southern Boone,” said Sherry Traub, one of three parent educators who attended the conference.

Traub said the extra money for the program would boost services for families.

In the past, services for the 3- to 5-year-old program have been limited because of a lack of funds. Now parent educators hope the increased-funding proposal will allow more services for the age group.

“The ultimate goal is to have the 3- to 5-year-old program look exactly the same as the birth to 3-year-old program,” Traub said.

Kimberly Jett of Ashland has two daughters, 3-year-old Emma and 6-month-old Kalli. Jett, who has participated in the program for three years, said that since Emma turned 3 she has been limited to only three visits with a parent educator in one year.

Kalli, on the other hand, still is able to enjoy a personal visit every six weeks.

“I dislike that their visits are limited to three times a year now,” Jett said. “I enjoy the visits because it’s good to hear things she’s (Emma) doing and could be doing.”

Jett hopes the funding would increase the number of personal visits for her and Emma.

“I used to be an educator,” said Jett, who is now a stay-at-home mom. “It’s important from Day One to have education be a part of children’s lives.”

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