Jefferson City — Gov. Jay Nixon today signed legislation that expands and formalizes the P-20 Council, a group that will help coordinate education from pre-school through college.

The legislation allows the P-20 Council, which has been in existence since 1997, to organize as a not-for-profit corporation and expand membership from 5 to 13 members.

The council’s board of directors will be composed of the commissioners of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education, the director of the Department of Economic Development, the chair of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, the president of the State Board of Education, the chairperson of the Coordinating Board for Early Childhood and 7 members to be appointed by the governor.

Tim Gallimore, assistant commissioner of academic affairs for the Department of Higher Education, served as interim director of the P-20 Council from 2008 to July 1, 2009. He says the new legislation will help the council obtain federal grants and establish regional P-20 groups to expand educational continuity statewide.

“The P-20 Council encourages education leaders to work together with economic development interests to help young people prepare for school, succeed in school and become productive members of the work force and their communities,” says Gallimore.

For example, one of the initiatives of a regional P-20 group in northwest Missouri brings business and education leaders together to focus on early childhood education.

“Eighty percent of brain development occurs before children enter kindergarten,” says Lowell Kruse, chair of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, and a member of the Northwest P-20 Council. “Parents of young children need resources and knowledge to nurture brain development in those critical early years. Employers, health care providers and educators all have a role to play in ensuring our kids get off to a good start.”

Robert B. Stein, Missouri commissioner of higher education, says the new legislation will help integrate education and workforce initiatives to prepare for the state's employment needs of the future.

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