Education

Education
10:36 am
Sun January 25, 2015

Kansas City Students Put Hand-Crafted Robots To The Test At FIRST Tech Challenge

Student built robots attempt to capture wiffle balls and put them in tall bins at the FIRST Tech Challenge qualifier.
Cody Newill KCUR

Nearly 500 students from the Kansas City metro area competed in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, Tech Challenge qualifier Saturday. 

Thirty-seven teams of middle and high school students filled UMKC's Swinney Recreation Center. Each team brought a small remote-controlled robot to roll around small arenas. The students guided their robots to try to collect Wiffle balls and place them in tall bins.

Read more
Education
3:17 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Missouri Governor Wants More Math And Science Classes In Elementary Schools

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon meets with students at Upper Mill Creek Elementary in Belton, where students are learning about robotics.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

How do you get fifth and sixth graders to see a connection between what they're doing in school and their future careers?

Talk to them about Walt Disney.

"As a sixth grader, he was sketching mice and ducks in his art class," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told students during an assembly at Mill Creek Upper Elementary in Belton Friday.

The school is one of 34 across Missouri that's teaching elementary school students about math and science through Project Lead the Way, which Nixon hopes will inspire them to pursue those fields as adults. 

Read more
St. Joseph School District
10:04 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

St. Joseph School Superintendent, COO Placed On Administrative Leave

St. Joseph School District Superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwonka has been placed on administrative leave.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

Update: Jan. 22, 2:25 pm

The St. Joseph School District has confirmed that Superintendent Fred Czerwonka and Chief Operating Officer Rick Hartigan are now on administrative leave.

Read more
Education
3:52 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Cuts To K-12 Education In Kansas Revised Upwards

Cuts to K-12 education in Kansas could be $127 million next fiscal year.
Credit alamosbasement / Flickr--CC

Funding cuts to public schools in Kansas may be more severe than education observers first thought.

Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed that the legislature rewrite the state's school funding formula. While that happens, he has proposed funding K-12 education in fiscal 2016 with block grants.

But a new analysis just released Wednesday by the Kansas Department of Education says money from the state for classroom instruction will be reduced by $127 million next year.

Initially, the department’s analysis had pegged the loss at $107 million.

Read more
Education
7:41 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

St. Joseph School Board Meets In Tense, Day-Long Session

The St. Joseph School Board meets in executive session to discuss a scathing audit and personnel issues.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

The St. Joseph School Board spent a tense eight hours behind closed doors Tuesday.

Board members spent more than five hours with investigators from the Missouri State Auditors office, going through the 49-page draft report page-by-page.

Those who’ve seen the report won’t discuss specific recommendations but describe it as "scathing."

After the meeting, board president Brad Haggard refused to discuss the audit's findings or recommendations. The district will write a response that will become part of the report.

Read more
St. Joseph School District
1:03 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

St. Joseph School Board To Review 'Scathing' Audit

The St. Joseph School Board will review a state audit report in executive session Tuesday.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

Officials in the St. Joseph School District have been nervously waiting for months for a report from the Missouri State Auditor.

KCUR has learned that the report is back and the board will discuss it Tuesday in executive session.

The Missouri State Auditor moved a five-member team into district headquarters last Spring after it was revealed that the new St. Joseph school superintendent, Dr. Fred Cerwonka, handed out $5,000 stipends to 54 administrators without seeking board approval.

Read more
Education
10:18 am
Sat January 17, 2015

Kansas Educators Confused About Governor's Budget Proposal

Kansas educators are confused over Gov. Brownback's proposed budget.
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The watch word for school funding in Kansas is now block grants. But how that will work remains a mystery to educators.

Gov. Sam Brownback wants to scrap the current per pupil funding formula which, he says, is complicated and inefficient.

While lawmakers try to write a new formula, Brownback proposes to give school districts lump sum payments over the next two fiscal years equal to about what they receive now.

Across the state, that’s $3 billion in aid to local school districts.

Read more
Education
9:47 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Hickman Mills School District Closer To Full Accreditation

The Hickman Mills School District is getting closer to full state accreditation.
Credit Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

The Hickman Mills School District in south Kansas City, Mo., appears to be inching closer to full accreditation.

Hickman Mills lost its full accreditation after several years of dismal test scores.

At the State Board of Education meeting Thursday Hickman Mills and two other districts updated their improvement plans.

Between the 2012-13 school year and 2013-2014 Hickman Mills made huge improvements on test scores and college and career readiness.

Read more
Education
5:40 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Tensions Ease Between Charter Schools And Kansas City Public Schools

Fourth grade students at Gordon Parks Elementary School listen while Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James reads.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

Last week a group of parents in Midtown Kansas City realized a dream: they raised enough money to get two new charter schools off the ground.

There was a time when such an announcement would be met with suspicion and perhaps even hostility from the Kansas City Public Schools.

Superintendent Steve Green says the district saw itself as a target.

"We isolated ourselves. It’s sometimes a typical response when you’re wounded or in some way hurting you isolate yourself. But it’s probably the last thing you should do," he says.

Read more
Kansas Budget
9:39 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Kansas Budget May Be Stressed Says Bond Rating Agency

A major bond-rating agency says the budget problems in Kansas are getting worse and indicates budget stress.

Standard and Poor's issued its latest report on the Kansas budget Friday and says much of the concern comes from a court ruling on school funding.

S&P says a ruling from a three-judge Shawnee County Court panel could cost the state another $500 million a year in school funding.

Read more
Education
1:55 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

St. Joseph School District Property Tax Levy In Peril

A new poll shows part of a property tax levy in the St. Joseph School District in trouble with patrons.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

Taxpayers in the St. Joseph, Mo., school district are opposed to renewing part of property tax levy that would cost the district $6.5 million.

Read more
Education
4:15 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

New Charter Schools For Midtown Kansas City Closer To Reality

Two new charter elementary schools are planned for Midtown Kansas City.
Credit Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

An idea born around a kitchen table a year-and-a-half ago to create charter schools in midtown Kansas City for parents who want to live in the city got a huge boost Thursday.

The Midtown Community Schools Initiative says it will open two charter elementary schools in the 2016 school year.

To get off the ground, the group will draw on $2.6 million in grants from the Kauffman Foundation, the Hall Family Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

Midtown co-founder Kristin Littrell says these schools will keep families in the city.

Read more
Education
2:39 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Kansas Attorney General Sues Over Alleged School Book Scam

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt sues a New Jersey firm over an alleged text book scam.
Credit Kansas Attorney General's Office

The Kansas Attorney General is suing a New Jersey company for allegedly scamming more than 300 schools in the state.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a civil suit in Shawnee County District Court against Robert Armstrong who runs Scholastic School Supply out of Franklinville, N.J.

The scam, according to the lawsuit, was simple and worked liked this: The company would send an invoice to a school for text books that the school never ordered.

Read more
Kansas Legislature
5:38 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Battle Over School Funding Looms Over Kansas Legislature

The K-12 School Efficiency Commission was a preview of the budget battle to come in the Kansas Legislature.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Kansas Legislature gets back to work Monday, and when lawmakers arrive in Topeka they will be consumed by two things: budget deficits and education.

Where those two intersect may prove to be the hot spot of the legislative session.

A preview of the coming budget battle was clear at the final meeting of the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission Monday at the statehouse.

The commission was supposed to figure out ways for Kansas school districts to save money that could be plowed back into the classroom.

Read more
Education
4:00 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Commission Recommends Yearly Compliance Audits For Kansas School Districts

The final meeting of the Kansas K-12 Efficiency Commission meets in the statehouse in Topeka
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

A commission set up to make Kansas school districts more efficient released its final report to the Legislature Tuesday.

The commission was created as part of a political compromise last session that put a court ordered $179 million more into Kansas schools.

The commission, which has been meeting since July, recommended two pieces of legislation. Neither would show any short-term savings.

One would establish a semi-permanent efficiency task force that would require yearly compliance audits for all school districts.

Read more
Education
1:55 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Northland Missouri Innovation Campus Captures Grant

Gov. Jay Nixon announces a $450,000 grant for the Northland CAPS Missouri Innovation Campus, which connects students with local employers for job training while they're still in high school.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

Gov. Jay Nixon was in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday to announce $450,000 in grants for a metro-area Missouri Innovation Campus.

The Northland CAPs program connects high school students from six local districts to nearby employers, where they learn job skills while earning college credit.

"That's a win for our colleges and universities, a win for Missouri business and, more importantly, a win for our students," said Nixon.

National non-profit USA Funds awarded Missouri $1 million to expand the Innovation Campus program last fall. 

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Kansas School Boards Gear Up For Funding Fight

School boards in Kansas are gearing up for a school funding fight in the Legislature
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

School board members from across Kansas are gearing up to fight for more funding when the state Legislature convenes on Jan. 12.

The Kansas Association of School Boards is using a court ruling handed down last week to makes its case.

A three-judge panel from Shawnee County was clear in its decision: schools in Kansas are unconstitutionally underfunded and more money must be spent.

Exactly how much and where that money will come from is being left up to the Legislature.

Read more
High Education
3:25 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Fort Hays State Among The Nation's Least-Expensive Universities

Fort Hays State is one of the least expensive universities in the country for in-state students
Credit Fort Hays State

Trying to figure out how to pay for college?

Turns out one of the best deals in the country is in Kansas.

When it comes to higher education in Kansas, most of the attention centers on the University of Kansas or Kansas State University.

But there are three other regent schools in the state. And according to U.S. News and World Report, for in-state students, Fort Hays State University has the second-lowest tuition and fees in the country.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Missouri High-Poverty Schools Get Low Marks

States are studying federal data on educator equality in high poverty schools versus low poverty schools
Credit Lauren Manning / Flickr--CC

In the next six months, state education officials will be poring over recently released data on whether students in high-poverty schools are getting the same quality of teaching as kids in low-poverty schools.

The U.S. Department of Education recently released something it calls Education Equity Profiles for all 50 states. They compare teacher data in high-poverty and high-minority schools with teacher data in low-poverty and low-minority schools.

Missouri fares worse than many other states.

Read more
School Funding
1:56 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Judges Rule Kansas School Funding Inadequate

Shawnee County District Court panel rules Kansas needs to spend more money on K-12 education
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A much-anticipated court ruling that could profoundly change how much Kansas spends on public schools was announced Tuesday afternoon – and it's bad news for state lawmakers.

A three-judge panel from Shawnee County ruled that while the formula for funding K-12 education is fine, lawmakers have failed to properly fund it.

The panel says per pupil base aid might need to go as high as $4,980. Current base aid per pupil is $3,833. That means the Legislature might have to come up with at least another $522 million to satisfy the court.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Johnson County Election Office Gears Up To Manage A Mountain Of Paper

Johnson County will mail 330,000 ballots, the most paper ballots in county history
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

You probably don’t know it, but Johnson County is in the middle of one of its biggest election challenges ever.

The county election office says it will mail ballots to more than 330,000  voters in a mail-election on whether school districts should be allowed to increase how much of their budgets can be raised from local property taxes.

County Election Commissioner Brian Newby says he expects half of those ballots to be returned. That means officials will be handling more paper ballots then they ever have.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Major Mail-In Election Slated For Johnson County Schools

Credit alamosbasement / Flickr--CC

Starting Friday the Johnson County Election office will mail about 330,000 ballots to voters in five county school districts.

The districts want to make permanent an increase in their local option budgets.

School districts have two main sources of money. Most funds come from the state, but districts can also raise local money from property taxes.

But the state limits how much a school district can tax locally.

Last year, the Legislature raised the limit from 31 percent to 33 percent of a district’s budget.

Read more
Education
4:02 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

ACLU Sues Kansas City Public Schools Over Ferguson Protest

The ACLU is suing Kansas City Public Schools over a protest at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.
Credit Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Monday against Kansas City Public Schools over a November protest at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. 

Read more
Education
11:31 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Lawmaker's Proposal Would Give Missouri Schools Letter Grades

Lamar Republican Sen. Ed Emery wants to give Missouri schools a report card – he's filed legislation to create an A-F letter grade system similar to those enacted in other states.

"I think if we can do this in Missouri, we'll have better informed parents and more involved parents, and as a result, we'll be moving toward an excellence in education that we all want," Emery said.

Florida was the first state to issue A-F letter grades to schools a decade ago under former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. Now, about a dozen states have similar systems in place.

Read more
Education
10:59 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Kansas State Tapped As Best University Marching Band In U.S.

Kansas State University has won the prestigious Sudler Trophy as the best university marching band in America
Credit Courtesy photo / Kansas State University

The Kansas State University marching band won one of the most prestigious music awards in the country Friday.

The Sudler Trophy is given every two years by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation to the university band with the highest musical standards, innovative routines and that's made contributions to the American way of life, according to the foundation website.

"It’s an award that people in the athletic band world covet. It’s really considered  sort of a lifetime achievement award in the marching band area," said Dr. Gary Mortenson, director of K-State's School of Music.

Read more
Education
10:45 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Room And Board To Increase At Kansas Regent Universities

Faculty, staff, students and community members gather for the dedication of Wichita State University's new Shocker Hall.
Credit Sean Sandefur / KMUW - Wichita Public Radio

Room and board is going up at the six Regent universities in Kansas.

The Kansas Board of Regents unanimously approved the hike at its regular meeting Wednesday in Topeka. Next year students will be paying about 3 percent more for dorm rooms and meals.

Some schools are hiking the price a little more than others.

Read more
Education
10:08 am
Thu December 18, 2014

University Of Kansas Sanctions Kappa Sigma Fraternity For Alleged Sexual Assault

The University Of Kansas placed the Kappa Sigma fraternity on probation for two years on Wednesday because of violations of the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

The sanctions are the result of an investigation of alleged sexual assault at the fraternity the weekend of Sept. 26.

According to a statement from the University, the sanctions against the Kappa Sigma fraternity include:

Read more
Education
11:21 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Missouri State Board Selects Vandeven As New Education Commissioner

The Missouri State Board of Education has named Dr. Margaret Vandeven as the state's next education commissioner. She starts in January.
Credit Courtesy photo / Missouri Department of Education

Update, 2:15 p.m. Wednesday:

Missouri's next education commissioner, Margaret Vandeven, says the provisionally-accredited Kansas City Public Schools will need to continue to make progress to regain full standing with the state.

"We're monitoring the situation," says Vandeven, a current deputy education commissioner who will take over as Missouri's schools chief early next year. "We certainly have our regional team working with the school district ... and we just need to continue to see improvement at the individual child level in that district."

Read more
Education
7:56 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Koch Funding On Campus Raises Questions At University Of Kansas

Art Hall is the executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at KU, a nine-by-nine foot room on the third floor of the business school.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

Charles and David Koch are well known for funding political campaigns, but the Kochs also donate tens of millions of dollars to colleges and universities.

Nothing unusual about wealthy people giving to higher education, but some professors warn that Koch funding can come with conditions that threaten academic freedom, and that has sparked a debate about the influence of big donors in an age of diminishing public university funding.

Nine-by-nine

Read more
Education
7:47 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Lack Of Diversity Noted In School Commissioner Search

Mike Jones talks with Missouri education Commissioner Chris Nicastro earlier this year

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:54 pm

When Chris Nicastro was chosen as Missouri’s education commissioner in 2009, her experience with school districts in north St. Louis County was cited as a big factor.

Now, as the Missouri state board of education prepares to interview five finalists to succeed Nicastro, they have a list of four white men who have been superintendents in Joplin, Branson, Springfield and Wentzville, plus a white woman who has been actively involved in north county as deputy commissioner but has never served as a superintendent.

Read more

Pages