Gov. Jay Nixon visited Hosea Elementary School on Tuesday morning to applaud the St. Joseph School District’s academic excellence and to discuss his education funding plans.

But first he visited Alesia Hamilton’s first-grade classroom, where he discussed the finer points of onomatopoeia with ShayLynn Gatrel.

“The word “whoosh” is onomatopoeia,” he explained to the first-grader, while she and her 75-year-old classmate, Alferd Williams, read “The Recess Queen.”

From there, an entourage of reporters, school and city and county officials followed him to the library, where he discussed a plan for $150 million in education funding in his budget proposal to the Missouri General Assembly. The proposal includes an additional $17 million for early childhood education, $100 million for K-12 classrooms and $34 million for colleges and universities.

“We now have an opportunity to make strategic, transformative investments that will strengthen our economy for years to come. Nothing we do will have a greater impact on our future than the commitment we make now to education. Giving children a solid beginning is a start to any economy,” Mr. Nixon told the group of about 50 people.

The $100 million in funding for K-12 classrooms will be used to help train more teachers, modernize classrooms and extend Missouri’s school year from 174 days to the national average of about 180.

Right now, Missouri has the fourth-shortest school year in the nation, Mr. Nixon said.

“Adding six more days to the next school year will give teachers more time to work with their students and give kids more time to learn,” he said.

The governor also added a provision in his budget that includes funds to expand the A+ Schools program statewide.

“The cost of college is still out of reach for too many Missouri families, and that becomes an unwelcome graduation gift,” he said. “That’s why the administration has dramatically expanded our A+ Schools programs, which gives our eligible students the opportunity to earn those scholarships through two years of community college, tuition-free.”

To be eligible for the A+ Schools program, Missouri students must meet academic achievement standards, conduct and attendance requirements, and perform 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring services.

“This is the year we will give every Missouri student who has worked hard and played by the rules the opportunity to earn an A+ scholarship, regardless of what school they attend,” Mr. Nixon said.

The governor applauded the St. Joseph School District for being accredited “with distinction” for five consecutive years by the state. He praised the dedication of the staff and administrators.

“The St. Joseph School District is an outstanding example of what is possible with talented teachers, dedicated administrators and sensible policies come together to ensure the students succeed,” he said.

The governor’s budget proposal is currently in the hands of the legislature.

Alonzo Weston can be reached

at alonzo.weston@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.

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