Elle Moxley

Missouri Schools Reporter

Elle joined KCUR in 2014 as a general assignment reporter. She covered the 2016 election in Kansas as part of a political reporting partnership with NPR. Today, she covers Missouri schools and politics.

Before coming to KCUR, Elle covered Indiana education policy for NPR’s StateImpact project. Her work covering Indiana’s exit from the Common Core was nationally recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award.

Elle has also reported for The Examiner in Independence, Missouri, and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri. She is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Ways to Connect

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Whenever she takes people out on her boat, Vicki Richmond from the Healthy Rivers Partnership likes to ask if they know where their drinking water comes from.

“You’d be amazed how many people don’t know it’s the Missouri River,” says Richmond as members of the media clamber aboard. For Drinking Water Week, the Kansas City Water Department arranged to have Richmond show us the Missouri River.

(This reporter would like to state, for the record, she knew before today where our drinking water came from.)

Wikimedia Commons

UPDATED, 4:50 p.m. Monday: The Kansas State University Police Department is investigating after a noose was found hanging from a tree on campus Friday.

The school's Office of Institutional Equity received the complaint. The noose was removed by campus police.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

City Manager Troy Schulte has sent a letter to the mayor and city council outlining how to spend the first $40 million in general obligation bonds Kansas City voters approved last month.

“We want to get the shovel-ready projects rolling, and we have to tackle the backlog of spot sidewalk repairs,” Schulte said in a statement. “I know council members are also anxious to get going, so this gives them a chance to review the list and provide us with the feedback we need to finalize the plan.”

Here’s what the city manager has proposed:

KCUR 89.3 File Photo

The speed limit on U.S. Route 71 just north of the Grandview Triangle increases this week to 65 miles per hour.

Currently, the posted speed limit from a half mile south of 75th Street to 3-Trails Crossing is 55, but most drivers tend to go faster, says Derek Olson, a district traffic engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James won’t commit to a timeline for hiring the next chief of police.

"The goal isn't to do this fast,” James said at a news conference at police headquarters Monday morning. “The goal is to do it right. If it takes us a year to find the best person, it’ll take us a year. If we can find the best person in 30 days, we’ll do that.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A $1.3 million grant will help a downtown charter school expand.

Education nonprofit SchoolSmartKC announced Tuesday support for Crossroads Academy, which hopes to open a high school in 2018.

“Whenever you’re growing and expanding, there are a lot of operational costs associated with the planning and staffing something while it’s still small and before it can reach full capacity and scale up to a point where it’s self-sustainable,” says Dean Johnson, executive director at Crossroads Academy.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt was in Kansas City Tuesday to promote MO ABLE, a new savings program for people with disabilities.

“Look, when my son was born, we opened up a college savings account. You have all those hopes and dreams,” says Schmitt. “Emotionally, psychologically, that’s tough for families.”

Schmitt's 12-year-old son is nonverbal on the autism spectrum.

The tax-advantaged accounts function similarly to Missouri’s 529 college savings plan and can be used to pay for assistive technology and long-term care.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Maybe you’ve noticed the yard signs featuring a pixelated, rainbow “U” popping up in the city’s southwest quadrant.

Parents who want to see the former Southwest Early College Campus reopened as a project-based learning high school met Wednesday at Bier Station in the Waldo neighborhood.

Office of the Missouri State Auditor

Updated, 4:40 p.m. Thursday: The Missouri Department of Revenue has turned a stack of documents over to the State Auditor's Office, according to a news release.

Auditor Nicole Galloway took the unusual step of issuing a subpoena Wednesday after the Department of Revenue failed to comply with an earlier request.

Galloway initiated the audit six weeks ago to ensure Missourians owed tax refunds were being paid on time. State law requires returns not paid within 45 days be paid with interest, which Galloway says isn't good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Five minutes before the town hall is supposed to end, a girl in a superhero shirt with perfect posture steps up to the microphone. She tells Kansas City Public Schools Supt. Mark Bedell the only reason she’s still in school is ROTC.

Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

Why did the turtle cross the road? Because it’s turtle mating season in Missouri.

Department of Conservation spokesman Joe Jerek says young male turtles are usually in search of territory while females are trying to nest.

“And if you think about it, comfort’s also a factor for turtles. They’re reptiles. As reptiles, they’re cold-blooded, so basking on a warm asphalt road feels good on a cool spring day,” Jerek says.

Unfortunately every year some of these turtles end up getting hit by cars.

Courtesy of the Lee's Summit R-7 School District

Changing bell times could save the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District more than $600,000 next year.

Three late-start elementary schools – Cedar Creek, Lee’s Summit and Trailridge – will start and end 40 minutes earlier next year.

For the first time, the district’s three high schools will all be on the same schedule.

Deputy Supt. Brent Blevins says current bus routes were set when the district was much smaller.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

More than 3,000 people are expected to attend a centennial commemoration of the United States’ entry into World War I in Kansas City on Thursday.

Kim Fritchie / Jacqueline Clark / Dennis Smith

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School Board has three new members: Jacqueline Clark, Kim Fritchie and Dennis Smith.

Reached by phone, Smith said he was thrilled that voters had prioritized the experience of educators.

“I think the decision making is very similar to what I did as a teacher and a principal. It’s a team effort,” Smith, the former principal of Campbell Middle School, said.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Academie Lafayette, a French immersion charter school, has reached an agreement to buy the former Derrick Thomas Academy in midtown.

“If everything goes as we hope, this building will be the third campus in the Academie Lafayette network,” Head of School Elimane Mbengue says.

Academie Lafayette already operates two schools, a K-3 campus in midtown and a 4-8 campus in Brookside. The 69,000-square-foot facility at 201 E. Armour Blvd would likely house a high school.

A group enforcement by the Kansas City No Violence Alliance over the last several months led to nine felony charges, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced Thursday.

It also netted 18 handguns, 400 rounds of ammunition, 38.6 grams of crack cocaine and more than $2,000 cash from associates of William M. Enloe, 20, who prosecutors charged earlier this month with second degree murder.

Enloe allegedly shot Antonio Williams Jr., 22, to death at the Phillips 66 at Bannister Road and Drury Avenue on Nov. 15, 2016.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Supt. Mark Bedell says community feedback should shape Kansas City Public Schools’ strategic plan.

“We need your voice. We need your assistance. And we need you to have buy-in to this plan,” says Bedell, who is in his first year with the district.

KCPS already has a master plan. Approved last year, it changed some boundaries and targeted student achievement at underperforming schools.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Don Maxwell doesn’t mince words when he describes the old shopping center at Linwood and Prospect on Kansas City’s East Side.

“It’s a ghetto,” says Maxwell, who used to own the property and still manages it on behalf of the city. “We’re getting ready to turn it into a gold mine.”

When the city bought the property last year for $950,000 with plans to put in a Sun Fresh Market, there wasn’t a playbook for a city-backed grocery store.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Updated 2:40 p.m. Monday: Oak Park students are being reunited with the parents after an anonymous threat prompted the lockdown and evacuation of the high school.

Between 1,300 and 1,400 students were in the building Monday, according to Jon Bazzano with the Clay County Sheriff's Office. They were bussed to Staley High School, where their parents could pick them up.

Elle Moxley

Kansas City Mayor Sly James sits in a comfy chair, holding up a book featuring a bow tie-wearing owl with a striking resemble to the mayor.

“The name of this book is ‘Our Home, Kansas City,’” James tells a group of 4-year-olds from Operation Breakthrough.

“It’s my book!” shouts a child.

“No,” says James, “this is my book.”

Joelouis Mattox, one of Kansas City's most prolific and recognized historians, was found dead of natural causes Tuesday morning at his home, according to friends and colleagues. He was 79.

Mattox held the title of historian for many local agencies and organizations, including Kansas City's Historic Preservation Commission and the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. He wrote and spoke frequently about Kansas City's history, as well as local and national African-American history.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

In a city with so many school options, it isn’t always easy for parents to choose where to send their children.

Amanda Recob’s daughter, Marliemae, will start kindergarten in the fall. But Recob isn’t just choosing a school for her 5-year-old.

“I have two girls following her, so it is a lot of pressure,” Recob says. “I don’t want them going to three separate schools.”

So Recob is trying to keep the needs of her 2-year-old and 4-year-old in mind as she visits schools.

Courtesy of Daniel King

Updated, 8:20 a.m. Tuesday: Fire officials in Overland Park say “skeleton crews” are on hand Tuesday, monitoring the smoldering remains of a massive fire that destroyed an unfinished four-story apartment complex yesterday.

The fire also badly damaged another apartment building under construction and damaged at least 17 homes nearby, destroying 8 of them, according to Overland Park city officials.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 11 a.m. Monday: Concrete dust filled the air as a demolition crew began tearing down the old Royale Inn, a blighted motel at Independence Avenue and The Paseo.

Before the city acquired it last year for $1.8 million, drug dealers and prostitutes frequented the Royale. A woman was found murdered in a stairwell in 2011.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Mayor Sly James initially said the ordinance had failed, but after a moment of confusion he announced that the Kansas City Council has enacted a $8.50 an hour minimum wage, effective Sept. 18, 2017.

The ordinance calls for an eventual $13 minimum wage in 2023.

But it might not stand. The Council voted just hours after the Missouri House fast-tracked a bill to prevent cities from adopting a higher wage than the state minimum, which is $7.70 an hour and the current rate in Kansas City.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It’s crunch time for Missouri school districts trying to reach state-mandated attendance goals.

The phone rings constantly in the attendance office at King Elementary, one of the Kansas City Public Schools where attendance is below the district average.

An out-of-breath Donetta Stuart describes the morning she’s had – and it’s only 9 o’clock. 

“Normally when we miss the bus stop, I take her to the next bus stop, but her daddy didn’t do that. It was crazy. We had a crazy day,” she says.

A Columbia man allegedly plotting a Presidents Day terrorist attack was charged in federal court Tuesday.

Tammy Dickerson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, says 25-year-old Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr., 25, believed he was meeting with members of ISIS who were actually undercover law enforcement agents.

Not my Presidents Day.

Though they carried different signs, that’s the message of protesters across the country who rallied Monday to oppose the policies of President Donald Trump.

In Kansas City, hundreds of people gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain just off the Plaza.

“The sign that I have says, ‘El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido,’” says Regina Sanchez of Kansas City, Missouri. “‘The people united shall never be defeated.’ My grandparents used to march in Chile with the same sign.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Hickman Mills Supt. Dennis Carpenter wants to make something very clear: he won’t welcome charter schools in his district.

At a community meeting Wednesday night, Carpenter told Robbyn Wahby, executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, she was being disingenuous.

Wahby was in Kansas City to give a presentation to the Southern Communities Coalition.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It’ll be August before Kansas Citians can vote on a minimum wage increase.

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that the city should get more time to review a proposed ordinance that would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2021.

Petitioners had hoped Judge Margene Burnett would force the city to place the measure on the April 4 ballot.

The city initially declined to put the question on the ballot in November 2015 because Missouri law forbids cities from enacting a minimum wage higher than the state minimum of $7.70 an hour.

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