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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A private education reform group is preparing to release its recommendations for turning around Missouri's unaccredited school systems, even as debate continues over whether the consultant was appropriately awarded the contract.

The Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust, or CEE-Trust, has been hired to come up with ideas that could be implemented in the Kansas City school district and potentially also in Normandy, Riverview Gardens or any other districts that become unaccredited. The Indianapolis firm will release its draft recommendations Monday to the State Board of Education.

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has been criticized by some teachers' unions and Democratic lawmakers for the way the consulting contract was awarded. One of the main complaints is that CEE-Trust's bid was nearly three times higher than the closest competitor.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Openings for the top job at Missouri state agencies no longer could mean an extended reign by a temporary leader under legislation proposed in the state Senate.

Missouri department directors chosen by the governor require Senate confirmation, but acting leaders do not. Two state agencies currently are led by acting chiefs, and Governor Jay Nixon this past week announced he was elevating two other acting directors to permanent positions.

Under the Senate legislation, state department directors would file a designation with the governor and the Legislature naming a deputy director who has the authority to exercise the director's powers during a vacancy. Acting directors could serve for 120 days.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Lottery has provided a larger-than-usual payment to public education because of stronger-than-usual sales.

The Lottery transferred $29.2 million to a state education fund Friday. That's the third largest monthly transfer in the Lottery's 28-year history.

Lottery officials cited strong Mega Millions sales in December for a $648 million jackpot. The Lottery also set a weekly record for distributed Scratchers tickets in December.

About one-quarter of every dollar of Lottery sales goes to public education programs. Slightly less than two-thirds of the proceeds go toward prizes.

The Missouri Lottery's largest monthly transfer to education was $30.4 million in April 2012, followed by $30.3 million in June 2013. In both instances, there were large jackpots in nationwide lottery games and strong sales for Missouri Scratchers tickets.

Published in Local News

ANDERSON, Mo. (AP) — Police in far southwest Missouri have issued an Amber Alert for a 6-month-old boy missing for more than a week.

The Anderson Police Department issued the alert Friday evening for Mitchell Farris, who has been missing since January 2nd from an apartment in the McDonald County town.

The alert identified two adults being sought as 34-year-old Preston Farris, described as a 5-foot-10 white male weighing 230 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes; and 30-year-old Anastasia McDaniel, a 5-foot-8, blue-eyed white female weighing 172 pounds.

The alert did not describe the relationship, if any, between baby Mitchell Farris and Preston Farris, and a call to police was not immediately returned.

The alert said the adults may be driving a red 2004 Ford Freestar with the Missouri license plate UH7D2R.

Published in Local News
Friday, 10 January 2014 16:51

Audit criticizes regulatory board vacancies

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new audit says Missouri has too many vacancies on several advisory and regulatory boards.
 
Friday's report from State Auditor Tom Schweich says 27 percent of seats on boards overseen by the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration were vacant as of June 2013. Vacancies are filled by the governor, an insurance department official or the board itself.
 
Five of the 37 boards examined lacked enough appointed members to make a quorum during meetings. The report also found 63 percent of the appointed board members served beyond their term expiration date.
 
In a response included with the audit, the department says it will continue to work at filling vacancies.
 
Overall, the department received a "fair" rating, the second lowest on the auditor's four-part scale.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The chairman of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus is stepping down.
 
   Democratic Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, of St. Louis, said Friday that she decided to resign because some members of the 16-member group were upset about her appearance with Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder at a news conference in December.
 
   Nasheed and Kinder were criticizing the decision of a state commission to delay low-income housing tax credits, as part of an informal deal to pass new tax incentives for Boeing.
 
   She became the chairwoman in 2013, after her election to the state Senate. She previously served six years in the House.
 
   Nasheed says the group's vice-chairman - Democratic Rep. Brandon Ellington, of Kansas City - will take over her duties until the caucus elects a successor.
Published in Local News
PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) - A California man has been sentenced to 19 years in prison after about 13.3 pounds of cocaine were found in his vehicle in northwest Missouri.
 
Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd announced Friday that 37-year-old Marcos Gonzalez, of Stockton, Calif., was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in October to first-degree drug trafficking. Zahnd says the cocaine was valued at $600,000.
 
In April 2013, a Platte County deputy stopped Gonzalez's U-Haul van for a routine traffic violation. While searching the van, the deputy found heat sealer and rubber bands, which Zahnd says are commonly used to package narcotics and bulk cash.  The deputy found the cocaine inside the bottom lining of three black suitcases.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A lawsuit is challenging Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's order that the state accept jointly filed tax returns from same-sex couples legally married in other states.
 
Nixon said the directive applies to tax filing status and doesn't authorize same-sex marriage. The Missouri Constitution states only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in the state.
 
The lawsuit asks Nixon's order be declared unconstitutional. It was filed by officials from the Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission and the Missouri Family Policy Council.
 
Missouri's tax code is tied to the federal code. Nixon said couples who file joint federal returns must file state taxes jointly. Federal officials determined legally married same-sex couples would be treated as married regardless of where they live.
 
A Nixon spokesman declined comment about the lawsuit.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers open their annual session Wednesday with some different priorities than those of Gov. Jay Nixon.
 
Republican legislators plan to pursue an income tax cut again after the Democratic governor vetoed last year's attempt.
 
House Speaker Tim Jones wants to consider "right to work" legislation that prohibits union bargaining fees from being a condition of employment. Nixon has said he would veto such legislation, so lawmakers may consider bypassing Nixon by referring it to the ballot.
 
Nixon has made Medicaid expansion a priority for a second straight year. But it's still not a priority for Republican legislative leaders.
 
There is agreement among the governor and some lawmakers that Missouri should change its student transfer law affecting unaccredited school districts. But so far, there is no consensus on a specific plan.
Published in Local News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri has dropped the GED and made the switch to a new high school equivalency exam.
 
The Columbia Missourian reports that beginning this month, Missouri began using HiSet, which Educational Testing Service is offering. The switch came with the introduction of a more costly computer-based version of the GED.
 
Even though the state went with the lowest bidder, the new exam will be more costly for some test takers.
 
Previously it cost $40 to take the GED once, with each retake costing another $40.
 
Missouri adult education official Tom Robbins says the most affordable way to take the HiSET is to pay $95 for the five-test battery. Participants get two free retests within a 12-month period. Out of that amount, $10 goes to the state to administer the program.
Published in Local News

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