In the Eldon High School gymnasium on Tuesday morning, eager students patiently waited as Governor Jay Nixon arrived in their midst.
In the Eldon High School gymnasium on Tuesday morning, eager students patiently waited as Governor Jay Nixon arrived in their midst. Nixon had already been on campus speaking with administrators, school board members, community leaders and students. The governor and his staff toured the district's career center and agricultural center before he addressed students from the high school, career center and Upper Elementary.
Nixon kicked off his speech by praising the district's high MSIP5 scores. MSIP5 gives school districts a percentage point score based on performance on a set of criteria.
"What we did about four years ago was begin a new way that we grade schools as a state," Nixon said. "So, this has been the first year that those grades have come forward. The first lady and I have been visiting the school districts that scored really high on MSIP5 and I want to tell you that this school district scored 91.8. Folks, that is a very, very good score."
The governor shared with all the students that he had just spoke to a select group of FFA students because he understands how vital programs like that are to their education and future. He also said that he had just returned from a trade mission in Canada, which happens to be a top trade partner with Missouri. According to Nixon, each year about $7 billion flows between Missouri and Canada for exported goods.
In order to stress the importance of their education, Nixon told the students how fierce competition for jobs has become.
"When I was in high school, I competed with students across the hall. When I went to Mizzou, I competed with students across campus and when I became a lawyer I competed with other lawyers around the state, but today the competition for jobs is no longer local or regional or even national. The competition is global," Nixon said. "The most important factor in determining if we are going to win this high stakes competition is the education you are receiving right now in Eldon."
The governor's focus on schools is a part of a plan that is included in his Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal. The proposal includes his "Good Schools, Good Jobs" plan, which will increase funding for K-12 classrooms by $278 million, putting the state on a path to fully funding the foundation formula in two years. Officials say the K-12 foundation formula, passed into law in 2005, establishes the state's funding level for K-12 schools.
"The more education that you get, the more financially secure you will be, the more good jobs our economy will create. It's really pretty simple. To create good jobs, we need good schools," Nixon said.
His proposal would also increase funding for Eldon schools by more than $634,000 which the district would use to hire an additional preschool teacher to provide access to early childhood education to 15 additional students. The district will also improve the overall performance of its wireless internet at its facilities so that it can be accessed throughout the buildings.
Superintendent Matt Davis felt like the governor's visit went very well.
"This is the first time a governor has ever been to the Eldon School District. It is really a special day for our school. I think it is important for our students to understand the political process," Davis said. "It was a great visit. The governor was impressed with our school and the things we were doing."
Davis chose to walk Nixon through the career center and agriculture building due to the training students receive in those areas.
"We took the governor to the Industrial Technology classroom that is taught by State Fair Community College instructors. Our goal is to train the workforce for tomorrow and we believe our partnership with State Fair and Johnson Controls is a model partnership for workforce development," Davis said. "We also visited our Agriculture Program. Our program has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Chapters in the Nation and we wanted to show him all the great things we are doing."
Nixon asked how to make sure more communities have good schools and how to help districts like Eldon even better and answered himself by saying that clearer goals and high expectations are the key. In order to meet those goals, resources are needed which is where Nixon's proposal comes in.
After the governor wrapped up his address to the students, Davis thanked them for giving him all their attention. He told the Lake Sun that he hopes Nixon's words impacted the students' view on their education.
"I hope the students understand how important education is to their future and how our elected officials can impact the quality of education that they receive," Davis added.