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During Visit to Clever, Nixon Calls for Expansion of A+ Program

Governor Jay Nixon visited a high school in the rural Ozarks Thursday that has recently achieved status as an A+ designated school: Clever High School. And as KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports, Nixon is calling for an expansion of the program.

Arielle Campbell is a farmer’s daughter from Clever, Missouri, population just over 1,000. She’s a senior. But as a freshman, she was approached by a science teacher, Ashley Moyer, who is also the high school’s A+ program coordinator. Moyer encouraged Campbell to go home and talk to her dad about the program, which could provide her with two years of free tuition at a state or technical college.

“I told him, and he was totally excited about it,” she said.

“And now, I’m on board with it, and about to graduate and have free college,” she said.

Now, after three years of good grades and several hours of community service, she’s set to go to college, tuition free for two years, at Ozarks Technical Community College after graduation. Her goal is to transfer to MSU after those two years and get a bachelor’s degree in creative writing.

“I really want to be an author. I really enjoy journalism as well, so it just depends on, you know, really what I kind of get into. But I love writing,” she said.

Governor Jay Nixon toured the campus Thursday, and took a few moments to praise Clever for undergoing the rigorous process of becoming an A+ designated school. He’s encouraging other schools in Missouri to do the same, so their students will have better opportunities in pursuing a college degree.

“A Plus scholarships have helped tens of thousands of Missouri families achieve the dream of a college education. By working together, using examples of schools like this, we can help even more families turn that dream into a reality,” Nixon said.

Despite the fact that the state is facing an estimated $500 million budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year, Nixon said he plans to expand the program. He said his proposed budget, which he expects to release in two weeks, will include the resources needed to do just that. Lawmakers will then decide whether to approve that budget.

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website, the A+ Program cost the state $25.2 million dollars in 2009-2010.

Almost half of the 2011 graduating class of Clever High School will be eligible for the A+ scholarship program.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.