VIDEO: Governor Snyder Visits Grand Rapids Elementary School; Calls for Increased Funding For Education

By Mike Brownfield | February 07, 2014


Governor Rick Snyder visited Harrison Park Elementary in Grand Rapids on Thursday to talk with parents and teachers about his plans to increase funding for preschool and K-12 education. And he took some time to read to some students, too.

As part of his FY 2015 budget proposal, Governor Snyder has requested more than $1 billion in additional K-12 funding when compared to FY 2011. In addition, he has called for $65 million to enable 16,000 additional students to have access to preschool. That's on top of the $65 million added in last year's budget. MLive reports on what that means for parents at schools like Harrison Park.

Joan Day couldn’t be happier that Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed $52.1 billion 2015 state budget may set the stage for her 2-year-old daughter to attend preschool when it’s her turn.

The Grand Rapids woman already has a son in the state’s Great Start Readiness Program at Harrison Park School, where she Thursday, Feb. 6, with the governor, school officials and fellow parents with children in the program. Day said she has teachers in her family who sing the program’s praises, but even more meaningful to her are the improved learning skills she’s seen in her son.

“It’s been huge for him,” said Day, one of eight parents to meet with Snyder at Harrison Park. “Preschool is what kids need to learn the skills they need to go to kindergarten and preschool isn’t free.

“Kids who don’t attend preschool have problems socially. They have problems with separation and they just start from behind. To start school at an early age only betters their chances of success as they go through their school careers.”

That’s exactly why Snyder said he’s proposed increasing funding for the second consecutive year, this time by $65 million, for the tuition-free program for 4-year-olds. The theory is that starting kids off on the right path early pays dividends with fewer problems during later years that can add unnecessary costs for taxpayers.

“We’ve been working hard,” Snyder told parents. “It’s been a big project the past couple of years to make sure there are enough resources for this.”

If legislators approve the budget as proposed, Snyder said the increased funding during the past two years would make room in the program for some 32,000 students, eliminating a 29,000-student waiting list. West Michigan superintendents have applauded the proposal, noting significant academic improvements among kindergarteners who have attended preschool over those who haven’t.

Read more about Governor Snyder's plan to increase education funding.