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Education initiative draws fire from Democratic legislator

JEFFERSON CITY – An education initiative being led by Governor Matt Blunt is drawing criticism by State Rep. Brad Robinson, D-Bonne Terre. The education agenda called &#8220Our Students First” is an initiative that would place a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution on the November ballot, according to Robinson.

&#8220The amendment would legislate exactly how school districts would budget their funds, thus removing school boards’ authority to manage their allotted monies,” Robinson said. &#8220Education is the cornerstone to building Missouri’s future. We must make a commitment to education by strengthening our schools by fully funding education. At the same time, we must work to reduce class size while retaining the teachers who are so dedicated to their students. I am very worried that if this initiative is approved that local control would be lost.”

Robinson argued that school districts should not be controlled by &#8220bureaucrats” in Jefferson City.

&#8220These decisions would be better made by the elected school board members,” Robinson said. &#8220I trust that local board members know best the interests of their communities.”

Robinson also said that several items are not covered under the agenda.

&#8220Expenses not covered include plant operation and maintenance, food service, transportation, libraries, teacher training and curriculum, nurses, guidance counselors and administration,” Robinson said. &#8220Expenses that would be covered include classroom teacher salaries, general instruction supplies, instructional aides and other activities. There is more to running a school than just what takes place in the classroom, for instance, you have to get the kids to school and also provide them with healthy meals.”

Robinson said safe, reliable buses and modern cafeterias are crucial education budget issues.

&#8220Is transportation and food service not a priority any longer?” Robinson asked. &#8220I would also like to point out that diesel is around $3 a gallon right now. These are issues that are simply not addressed in the 65 percent plan and until they are, I simply cannot support it.”

Robinson said Blunt’s plan threatens the state’s support system.

&#8220I am committed to providing high quality education to all of Missouri’s children, because our children’s education is not only the key to their personal success, but also the success of our state’s economic growth,” Robinson said. &#8220The people of this great state expect to see a plan to keep the courts out of our under-funded school system. They expect a state budget that protects children. This plan assumes that local school boards cannot be trusted to make necessary decisions about funding resources.”

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