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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Board of Education has endorsed a plan for assisting and intervening in school districts.

Districts are to be classified in tiers based upon performance, and state involvement would increase as performance worsened. Education officials could tailor what steps are taken based upon the situation within a school district.

The education board approved the framework Friday and directed state education officials to start work toward applying it to specific districts. Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says the first step is likely to be an overview of districts that are currently unaccredited or have provisional accreditation.

Missouri officials have been considering school plans since a law took effect last year that gave the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education more power to intervene in struggling districts.

Published in Local News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The mid-February kidnapping death of a 10-year-old Springfield girl has led to calls to changes Missouri's Amber Alert system.
 
Fourth-grader Hailey Owens was walking just a block from her home when she was abducted.  Springfield police responded within 10 minutes of the initial 911 call. But the statewide child abduction alert didn't go out for more than two hours.
   
The Kansas City Star reports that a grassroots campaign in southwest Missouri is working to speed up an alert system that requires three-page forms be filled out by hand and then sent by fax.
 
Middle school football coach Craig Michael Wood has been charged in the girl's death after police reported finding her body in Wood's basement.
Published in Local News
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri fish hatchery is being considered for an effort to reintroduce the endangered Topeka shiner fish back into state streams after being on the verge of extinction.
 
The Joplin Globe reports the minnows currently are found in two Missouri creeks and previously were found in a third until about 1990. They also can be found in portions of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and South Dakota.
 
Fisheries biologist Jerry Wiechman with the Missouri Department of Conservation says there are a few details to be worked out before the shiners can be raised at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery in southwest Missouri.
 
Wiechman says studies examining why the Topeka shiner is disappearing don't point to a specific culprit, but generally the fish disappears where human activity increases.
Published in Local News
Monday, 17 March 2014 02:47

Food bank demand growing in Missouri

   While unemployment rates are decreasing, the economic recovery still isn't trickling down to the dinner table for too many hungry Missourians.  That's according to Monica Palmer with the Missouri Food Bank Association.  She says 2013 was a record-breaking year, with more than 100 million pounds of food distributed across the state - a 23 percent jump from the year before.
   Palmer says more Missouri families are finding they simply can't stretch their budgets any further.  "Their income is not keeping up, because groceries are going up, childcare is going up, everything is going up, but wages are not competing - they're actually going down," Palmer said.
   The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks Missouri number two in the nation for "very low food security," which means many of the state's residents have a hard time consistently providing food for themselves and their families. More information on accessing or donating to local food banks is at FeedingMissouri.org
   Palmer says not only are more people visiting the state's food banks for the first time, they're relying on them for longer periods of time.  She says that has led to a shift in the food bank mission. "Historically, food banks are the organizations that help with emergency needs," Palmer said.  "But over the last several years we've seen food banks supplying more maintenance food because people aren't finding the jobs, they're not getting back on their feet quite as much."
   Palmer says cuts to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program last year equated to three and a half million lost meals for Missouri families. While the recently-passed federal Farm Bill does allocate an additional 200-million dollars to food banks nationwide, Palmer says it's too soon to know how much of an impact it will have.
 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Running afoul of Missouri's open government laws could carry a smaller financial penalty but no longer require proof the law was knowingly broken under legislation before a Senate committee.

Officials or agencies now can pay up to $5,000 for a purposeful violation and up to $1,000 for a "knowing" violation. The Senate legislation would reduce the amount of the lesser penalty to $100 and no longer require a violation be committed "knowingly" for there to be punishment.

Supporters say the changes would make enforcement of the Sunshine Law just like that of other statutes.

Organizations representing cities, counties and other local governments are critical. They question levying penalties against people who can be volunteers and who accidently violate an open meeting or public records requirement while serving their communities.

Published in Local News
Friday, 14 March 2014 14:40

Missouri could set record for executions

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Missouri is on pace for a record number of executions in 2014, with two more inmates on the verge of getting their execution dates.
 
The Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday issued show cause orders in the cases of Leon Taylor and Michael Worthington. The orders give attorneys for the two men until April 14 to show why an execution date should not be set.
 
Missouri executed two men late last year and has already put to death two other convicted killers in the first two months of 2014 -- Herbert Smulls in January and Michael Taylor in February.
Jeffrey Ferguson is scheduled to die March 26 for abducting and killing a teenager in St. Charles County in 1989. In addition to Taylor and Worthington, the Supreme Court has issued show cause orders for five other death row inmates, meaning their execution dates could be set soon.
 
Missouri’s highest number of executions in a year was nine in 1999. The state executed eight men in 1938 and seven in 2001.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri schools would be barred from electronically tracking students if legislation passed by the state Senate ultimately becomes law.
 
The legislation approved Thursday would prohibit public school districts from using "radio frequency identification technology" to track to location of students or transmit information about them.
 
The technology already is used to identify livestock and pets, track inventory for businesses and allow cars to pass by electronic toll readers without stopping to pay.
 
Republican Sen. Ed Emery, of Lamar, is sponsoring the bill banning the devices to track students. Emery said he's not aware of any Missouri schools that have sought to use the technology.
 
The Senate voted 27-5 for the bill, which now goes to the House.
Published in Local News
 ATLANTA (AP) - Jabari Brown scored 26 points, Earnest Ross added 24 and Missouri barely kept alive its hopes of an NCAA bid, beating Texas A&M 91-83 in double overtime in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday.
 
The Tigers (22-10) squandered a nine-point lead in the second half, and Texas A&M (17-15) forced another extra period when little-used senior Blake McDonald made a steal under the basket and flipped to Alex Caruso for the tying layup with 8 seconds remaining.
 
Missouri twice failed to get off a shot with chances to win the game in the closing seconds. It didn't matter. The Tigers finally wore down the Aggies, who had lost at Missouri 57-56 just eight days earlier.
 
Caruso led Texas A&M with 28 points, hitting 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
Published in Sports
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri drivers would not have points assessed against their license for tickets issued by automated traffic cameras under legislation endorsed by the state House.
 
The House gave initial approval to the bill Wednesday that would regulate red-light and speeding cameras.
 
Photo traffic enforcement systems for Missouri municipalities have been the subject of ongoing court cases and many cities have temporary halted enforcement. The measure would require cities to meet certain standards in order to operate speeding or red-light cameras.
 
Supporters say the measure would streamline traffic enforcement across different municipalities and give guidance to the courts. Opponents say it circumvents the point system and could keep dangerous drivers on the road.
 
The bill needs one more affirmative vote before moving to the Senate.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The number of Missouri residents using a federal website to enroll in health insurance is growing, but not as fast as had been projected.
 
Figures released Tuesday show nearly 75,000 people had enrolled in health policies by March 1. That's up by more than one-third from the Feb. 1.
 
Yet Missouri remains behind the enrollment targets originally set for federal health care law. The March 1 number is about where Missouri was expected to be on Feb. 1.
 
Missouri was projected to enroll 118,000 people by March 31.
 
Missouri is one of 36 states where the online insurance marketplace is being run by the federal government.
 
Health care advocates intensified their efforts over this past weekend to persuade people to sign up for the insurance policies.
 
Published in Local News
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