JEFFERSON CITY — A crowd of administrators, teachers, principals and students gathered in the rotunda of the Capitol on Wednesday to hear Gov. Matt Blunt outline a budget that would increase funding for public elementary and secondary education by $170.6 million in fiscal 2006.
In addition to speaking about his budget proposal, Blunt discussed his plans to increase funding for the Parents as Teachers program by $5 million, which would allow the program to work with an additional 10,500 families in Missouri. The plan would also increase A+ Program funding by $4 million. A+ is a program that helps high school students make long-term goals for successful careers.
“Investing in our children is investing in our future,” Blunt said. “Our children deserve no less.”
Blunt also detailed aspects of the proposed budget that would protect children covered by the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program and said he plans to help children with disabilities by providing services through the First Steps program.
Other speakers at the event were Tom Kerber, president of the Missouri School Boards’ Association; Roger Dorson, president of the Missouri Association of School Administrators; and Linda Schnakenberg, president of the Missouri State Teachers Association.
Kerber supported Blunt’s budget proposal and said he feels there is a need for adequate and additional funding for education in Missouri. Kerber said he attended the teachers’ rally in “support of the 900,000 public school students in the state and the school boards that operate the schools.”
Kerber said he hoped the General Assembly will support the governor’s proposal because he feels the state needs the financial backing to educate children adequately. Public education is required by federal law to educate every child, and Kerber said he felt this proposed budget would help do so.
“We accept every child at our door,” he said.
Dorson was also supportive of Blunt’s budget request. He addressed various educational needs like reducing class sizes, maintaining quality teachers and meeting the costs for special education services, which help at-risk children. He also stressed that schools need to provide the necessary training for teachers and staff members, use technology appropriately in the classroom and replace or renovate inadequate facilities.
Schnakenberg said teachers, as a community, agree that high standards are important in education, but that districts need the resources to achieve them. She was supportive of Blunt’s plan because she felt school districts need the funding to help schools and their students achieve the high standards and goals that have been set.