Gov. Mike Parson spoke repeatedly about investing in early education as a way of improving the state’s workforce leading up to his first State of the State address as governor. However, his first budget, released in conjunction with the address, does not include funding for preschool expansion.
Missouri ranks toward the bottom of the states in terms of spending on preschool. Because of that, school districts have to either charge tuition to kids younger than kindergarten, or get creative with finding the money to offer free preschool.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides grants for schools to run preschool programs, but the money was cut in half last year. Only 15 percent of Missouri school districts get any of it.
In Parson’s first budget, the grant money remains the same as last year’s reduced amount.
Read more: St. Louis Public Radio