Issues

Education in Hazelwood School District

The children and citizens of Hazelwood are fortunate to have highly qualified caring teachers, dedicated administrators and school board members who work hard to see that all children are educated well. Our children learn in beautiful buildings in a large district, which affords them the ability to take a wide variety of courses and programs. Many children throughout the district are performing with distinction and the climate in most buildings is caring and conducive to learning. Hazelwood is a good school district.

Unfortunately, like many other school districts, Hazelwood was impacted by the ‘Great Recession’. The high unemployment and home foreclosures of 2010 caused property values to drop and many residents to leave the district. The result has been a significant drop in revenue for the district. The district is in financial crisis and difficult reductions in spending will need to continue.

Hazelwood families are like those in many other districts. They have challenges. Our district needs to address the challenges that inhibit learning and, like all caring communities, help our families when we can where we can.

There is nothing more important to a thriving community than good schools. I want to help Hazelwood get through these difficult financial times, continue to grow in strength and character and move forward. That is why I am running for the Hazelwood School Board.

My Goals for the Hazelwood Schood District:

  • I want to get the Hazelwood School District back to financial stability.
  • I want the school board to be as transparent as possible and make the community partners in their quest to improve education.
  • I want to find creative ways to expand early childhood learning throughout the district.

Education

Public education is the foundation of our democracy and our economic success. Every child deserves a great public education! This is what I believe and what Missouri needs to prosper in the 21st century.

Missouri ranks 47th in K-12 spending, 46th in teacher pay, and 45th in funding increases for higher education. The Missouri Legislature has failed to fully fund the foundation formula for the last 11 years. Despite underfunding education, Missouri students graduate from high school at a 10% higher rate and achieve better scores in math and reading than the national average. Missouri educators are working smart with fewer resources and should be congratulated. More needs to be done, however, particularly in areas of high poverty where children have more obstacles to learning.

Missouri does not need to divert scarce pubic funding to private schools via vouchers, nor does it need to expand charter schools or undermine teacher unions. Legislators should listen to educators and work with them to help Missouri become a top ten state for educational excellence.

In 2014, Rep McNeil worked behind the scenes to get increased funding for early childhood education. HB 1689 was signed by the Governor and contained parts of a bill Rep McNeil sponsored.  She also sponsored legislation to expand learning time and early childhood education through private grants.

Margo McNeil supports these actions by the State:

  • Fully fund the Education Foundation Formulat
  • Expand early childhood education
  • Increasing 'learning time' for students
  • A lower student / teacher ratio
  • Increasing college completion rates
  • Increasing college scholarships for low income students

Margo McNeil Opposes:

  • Using public money for private schools.
  • The expansion of charters beyond the boundaries currently in the law.

Economy and Jobs

The GOOD NEWS is that as of November 2016, the unemployment rate is at 4.7%. Missouri added 51,000 jobs from October 2015 to October 2016 and was ranked 15th out of 50 states in job growth. The state’s technology incubators and innovation on the part of entrepreneurs are beginning to pay off in more job opportunities. Despite the upturn in job creation, these last 8 years have been difficult.  North County experienced higher than average unemployment and too many foreclosures. Many traumatic experiences go with job loss for those who lose their jobs. Communities suffer as well, as friends leave, neighborhoods are decimated and businesses put in jeopardy. We are still recovering from the Great Recession but are moving forward with hope.

Putting Missourians back to work must be a top priority. Keeping businesses successful, developing new industries and having a trained and educated workforce are all part of the equation for a thriving economy.

Margo McNeil supports these actions by the State:

  • Increases the minimum wage - eventually to $15/hr
  • State and Federal subsidies to make childcare affordable
  • Paid Family Leave

Margo McNeil Opposes:

  • All efforts to make Missouri a Right to Work State
  • All laws that undermine employee rights - like paycheck deception
  • Overturning prevailing wage laws

Environment

Missouri needs to develop a comprehensive and diverse energy plan which is less dependent on coal and imported oil, which encourages energy efficiency, and which promotes renewable energy.

Buildings consume 40% of the energy used in this country. In the fall of 2011, I visited Richardsville Elementary in Bowling Green, KY, a school billed as a ‘net zero’ energy user.  Construction of the school cost less than a traditional school in that area, even though solar panels and geothermal units were installed. Investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy makes good sense. These investments free valuable tax dollars for other purposes.

Margo McNeil tours Richardsville Elementary
Margo McNeil tours Richardsville Elementary

From 2008-2016, Missouri added 131,000 green jobs to the work force. School districts should audit or benchmark their energy use and work to reduce their energy use where ever possible. As a member of the Hazelwood School Board, I will advocate for these measures.

Margo McNeil supports these actions by the State:

  • The expansion of renewable energy production in Missouri
  • Benchmarking energy use in publicly owned buildings
  • Investment in an expanded public transportation system
  • Proper disposal of electronic and pharmaceutical products
  • Removal of radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill & Cole Water Creek

Healthcare

The premiums for health insurance skyrocketed from 1999 – 2009, increasing by 131% over those 10 years.  Inflation increased by 28% during that time period. Despite the increase in premium costs, deductibles increased and policies covered less. The average premium cost for a family was $13,000+. In 2013, Christian Hospital absorbed over $100million in uncompensated care costs and emergency rooms everywhere were overburdened with uninsured and underinsured. When I ran for office in 2008, the number one concern people in this area expressed was a need to fix health insurance costs and policies.

The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 and began operation January 1, 2014.  Despite its setbacks from the courts and Congress, eventually 16.4million previously uninsured individuals are now insured. In January 2014, 74,000 Missourians began receiving health care through the ACA Marketplace. The average monthly premium was $59/month. One can google the many stories of those who got the lifesaving care they needed because of the ACA. The Affordable Care Act has been a true blessing for many.

In 2017, affordable, accessible quality health care is in jeopardy, as the Republican Congress and President move forward with repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. Fear and concern about losing this most important benefit abounds. It is too early to know the direction the Republicans will take. I hope that these elected officials will listen to the voices of those who have used and appreciate the ACA and improve and expand coverage for all Americans.

It is my belief that every person deserves quality health care. Access to care should not depend upon the size of your pay check. Health care should a Right of Every American!  It is my hope that state and federal elected officials will put the Well Being of the People above partisan politics.

Margo McNeil wins award from Consumer Council of Mo for passage of health insurance rate review
Margo McNeil wins award from Consumer Council of MO for passasage of healthcare insurance rate review

Margo McNeil supports these actions by the State:

  • Affordable accessible quality health care for all - like the ACA
  • Expansion of Medicaid to include those from 19 - 138% of the poverty level
  • Passage of statewide prescription drug monitoring legislation

Margo McNeil Oposses:

  • Federal Block grants for Medicaid services

We can achieve more by working together.
... Margo McNeil