By Senator Will Kraus
Ever since I entered the State Legislature in 2005, I have steadfastly supported our public education system, the teachers, and administrators who work long, hard hours to educate our children. As many of you already know, I have a long legacy of public school educators in my family and in my wife’s family. That gives me a unique perspective, and, I can assure you, an open mind.
This year, I sponsored Senate Bill 381, which may be the most significant education bill sent to the governor’s desk. Because it is a new, innovative idea, and because it affects both secondary and higher education, SB 381 will have a huge impact, especially on the Lee’s Summit School District in the short term. The bill was carried by Rep. Gary Cross in the House. SB 381 set up “innovation education campuses,” which will target certain students from their freshman year to specific high tech jobs with specific companies. A cooperative arrangement with a local school district, a community college and a university (such as the current arrangement between Lee’s Summit schools, Metropolitan Community College and the University of Central Missouri) along with local technology companies. The campus idea will allow students to combine six years of school and internships into a degree starting from a freshman year in High School and ending six years later likely with a high technology job. Students will save time and money, and be better prepared for high-income jobs in specialized fields.
In addition to SB 381, I supported House Bill 2, which increased K-12 spending, and House Bill 3, which increased higher education spending. I also supported several bills, including House Bill 152 from Rep. Sheila Solon, which I carried through the Senate, giving schools some flexibility to better protect our children. And while critics will say that House Bill 253, the Broad-Based Tax Cut bill, would harm education spending, I disagree. Education spending can only be improved by growing our tax base, expanding businesses and increasing the number of residents, and that is what HB 253 is designed to do. Triggers in the bill guarantee that we would not lose revenue as this important economic development tool is put into place.
I will remain a steadfast supporter of public education. We may not agree on every vote I take, but I assure you, your children’s and grandchildren’s future is important to me.
Senator Will Kraus serves Eastern Jackson County in the 8th State Senatorial District.
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