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

Charles Barsotti

Kansas City-based cartoonist Charles Barsotti died Monday, according to The Kansas City Star.

Barsotti, 80, was a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The Atlantic and USA Today. He published more than 1,300 cartoons during his career.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The University of Missouri athletics department announced Monday the men's basketball team will play Oklahoma State on Dec. 30 at the Sprint Center.

The match-up demonstrates the university's commitment to play in Kansas City and recruit from the metro area, says MU athletics director Mike Alden. He praised head coach Kim Anderson's willingness to put a tough non-conference team on the schedule.

If figuring out how to fix education in Kansas City is a puzzle, then the founders of The Lean Lab say their fellowships should provide the pieces.

"Each fellow has to commit to impacting 500 students over the course of five years," says Carrie Markel, the group's chief operating officer. "If we incubate 20 fellows a year, in less than 20 years we would impact all 70,000 students in the Kansas City city limits."

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Transit advocate Clay Chastain got his day in court Thursday, but it's still unclear if his plan to build a light-rail system will go before voters.

For three years, Chastain has been locked in a battle with city officials who say the 3/8-cent sales tax increase he's proposed isn't enough to pay for light-rail. The Missouri Supreme Court weighed in earlier this year, ruling that even if voters approved the plan, the city wouldn't have to build it.

Bob Nichols / United States Department of Agriculture

Two years ago, sweeping changes to federal school lunch guidelines put more fruits, vegetables and whole grains on cafeteria trays.

But the healthful options haven't been popular with students (you might remember the catchy video some Kansas kids made blasting the changes). And for the first time in 30 years, the number of meals purchased in school cafeterias is in decline.

Poverty in suburban Johnson County doesn't look like it does in urban Kansas City, Kan., or rural parts of the state. 

And that makes it harder to address a growing problem in a part of the metro seen as affluent, says County Manager Hannes Zacharias.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

For months, Kansas City resident Cherie Fishback has been writing letters to the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of her boyfriend, Lee Murphy, who last year had to have emergency gallbladder surgery.

Clay Chastain
Video frame courtesy of TV-9

Kansas City transit advocate Clay Chastain is in town this week to promote his light-rail proposal ahead of hearing that could put the issue before voters.

Chastain, a former Kansas City resident who now lives in Virginia, has for years pressured the city to build an interconnected transit system with a hub at Union Station. His idea has a lot of moving parts – light rail line to the airport, commuter rail to the southeast and streetcars to the Kansas City Zoo. And in 2011, he gathered enough signatures to put a 3/8-cent sales tax on the ballot to help pay for it.

File / U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Update, 4:45 p.m.:

The Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center says its cardiology clinic never kept a secret waiting list, but "a serious clerical mistake" delayed several veterans waiting for follow-up care.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt flagged the facility Thursday in a growing scandal over long wait times for veterans. He told reporters he planned to press the hospital for more information "based on my firm belief the Kansas City Medical Center is likely to be found to be one of those hospitals that has a secret waiting list."

Elle Moxley / KCUR

City leaders spent Thursday courting a delegation from the Republican National Committee in hopes of a securing a bid for the 2016 convention.

So far, the RNC is impressed.

"We've had children out to lead us in the pledge of allegiance. We had the high school band out on the tarmac to greet us. We had another young lady who just sang beautifully for us," says former Utah Congresswoman Enid Mickelson, the chairwoman of the site selection committee. "Those are the kind of traditional values clearly you have in Kansas City, and we think are important to spotlight."

Elle Moxley / KCUR

It’s a lofty goal for any charter – be the premiere public school in Missouri and a model for the rest of the country.

And for a new school, it’s especially bold. Yet that’s been the vision of the Kauffman School since before it opened.

This week while other metro-area kids were enjoying that first taste of summer, sixth graders at the Kauffman School were sitting in science class. It's quiet except for the scratch of pencil on paper.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder and Missouri Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver were in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday to promote a new political discussion group.

The group – called the Village Square – encourages people to meet across party lines to talk about political topics with civility and respect.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The company that provided the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph its liability insurance in the 1970s says it shouldn't have to defend the church or pay damages in a litany of sexual abuse cases.

The U.S. Fidelity and Guaranty Co. filed suit in federal court Friday against the diocese, which has been sued by more than a dozen plaintiffs who say they were victims of sexual abuse in the '60s and '70s. In the majority of those cases, the court has dismissed all claims against the diocese except the intentional failure to supervise clergy.

Expect long delays Monday and Tuesday on southbound Interstate 435 at 87th Street.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has reduced traffic flow to one lane while work crews complete an emergency pavement repair on southbound I-435. Additional lanes were already closed at 87th Street to accommodate bridge work.

"As part of the lane restrictions, traffic was shifted partly onto the right southbound shoulder and the shoulder pavement has not held up to the increased traffic," KDOT spokeswoman Kimberly Qualls said in a written statement.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Jewish organizations in the Kansas City area spent Friday learning what to do if ever again faced with a threat like the shootings last month that left three people dead.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City organized the workshop, during which about 150 people received safety training from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement.

File Photo / KCUR

Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder says it's time for a change in national leadership at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Yoder, an Overland Park Republican, visited the VA Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday amid growing concern over long wait times for veterans. 

"Many of my constituents are lacking confidence in the response to what's occurred in Phoenix and across the nation," says Yoder. "They would like to see a new secretary and new leadership."

Courtesy photo / Denesha Snell

Denesha Snell remembers the first time her cycling club rode through Swope Park and down the Paseo.

"There was a guy in the park, and he said, 'Somebody told me there was a bunch of black women on bikes.' And he didn't believe it. We rode past him, and his mouth dropped to the floor because he could not believe it," says Snell. "The myth is that we don't work out and we don't exercise."

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon plans to veto legislation that would have allowed students in the unaccredited Kansas City school district to transfer to private schools.

In a statement Friday, Nixon blasted state lawmakers for failing to fix the current school transfer law.

“Throughout the legislative session I repeatedly made it clear that any effort to send public dollars to private schools through a voucher program would be met by my veto pen,” Nixon said. “The General Assembly ignored my warnings, and this veto will be the result.”

There probably isn’t enough tornado damage in Orrick, Mo., to qualify the small town 30 miles east of Kansas City for federal assistance.

Though the May 10 tornado ravaged homes and the local school, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says it's unlikely claims will top the $8.4 million threshold needed for federal disaster relief.

“We had a chance to tour the school today," says Nixon, who visited Orrick Wednesday. "The bottom line is that community, we’re working very hard to get the debris out of there.”

Submitted photo / City of Kansas City, Mo.

There will be no gold-plated shovels at Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony for the  streetcar in downtown Kansas City, Mo. – that's a promise.

"We wanted to do something different because the streetcar is a game-changer for Kansas City," says city spokesman Chris Hernandez.

Thursday is set to mark the start of major construction on the downtown starter line, the first phase in the city's multi-year streetcar initiative.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

A Spanish auto parts manufacturer will add 118 jobs in Kansas City over the next two years.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was in town Wednesday to help cut the ribbon at Grupo Antolin's new $18 million plant, which will produce customized headliners for the vehicles such as the Ford Transit vans being manufactured at Claycomo.

"Since we first announced Grupo coming to Missouri, the company has already hired over 50 employees, including plant manufacturing and management staff," says Nixon. "That's big news for the company and a huge win for this community."

Steve Bell / KCUR

It's going to take some time before Kansas Citians can summon emergency services with a text message.

The big four cell phone carriers announced this month they would offer text-to-911 capabilities to any local government wanting to use the technology.

"There's going to be a line," says Keith Faddis, director of public safety programs for the Mid-America Regional Council.

Crazybananas / Flickr.com - CC

A hot, dry spring is sending mixed signals to Kansas climatologists trying to predict what kind of summer the Central Plains will have.

At the beginning of May, temperatures in Wichita, Kan., topped 100 degrees three times. Combine that with a lack of rain to the southwest, and crops across the state are starting to show signs of stress.

Courtesy of Beef Products International

The usual food safety advice applies in the latest ground beef recall: Don't order that hamburger rare.

A Michigan-based company has recalled 1.8 million pounds of ground beef earmarked for use at restaurants in four states, including Missouri, for possible E. Coli contamination.

Wolverine Packing Co. issued the recall Monday for distributors in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio after 11 people became sick. 

Though E. Coli occurs naturally in the gut of cows, it's relatively easy to avoid, says University of Missouri food science professor Azlin Mustapha.

bigstock.com

Legislation awaiting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's signature gives state educators two years to reaffirm their support for the Common Core or dump the education standards in favor of state-specific alternatives.

Lawmakers agreed to the compromise last week after debating the contentious nationally-crafted student expectations for most of the session.

If the bill becomes law, educator work groups will spend the next two years writing new learning goals for math and English language arts.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Some Kansas Citians say they're worried that new rules the Federal Communications Commission is considering would threaten net neutrality — the premise that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

FCC commissioners met Thursday in Washington, D.C., to consider a couple of options. The first would let Internet service providers charge certain companies more to load their content faster, with the FCC overseeing those deals. The second would do the opposite – it would make broadband service a public utility and ban pay-for-performance agreements.

MyTudut / Flickr-CC

State lawmakers are close to a deal that would keep the Common Core education standards in Missouri schools until a panel of teachers can review the nationally-crafted expectations.

Missouri is one of 44 states that signed on to use the Common Core in 2010. But as schools have aligned their teaching and materials to the new expectations, parents have pushed back. They're concerned the standards, which have been endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, will mean a loss of local control for Missouri schools.

Photo courtesy of Charvex.

It’s not a new problem in Kansas City: Large groups of teens flock to the Plaza on summer weekends, and they don’t always follow the rules. 

Kansas City Police Department Central Patrol Operations Sgt. Greg Williams says the plan this summer is to take a harder line if teens are violating any city ordinances.

Unilever is adding 70 jobs and investing $99 million at its Independence food manufacturing plant.

About 190 employees currently work at the plant, which for years has made Wishbone salad dressing. The jobs are above average wage. the kind Independence Economic Development Council President Tom Lesnak says the city tries to attract. But those jobs have been in jeopardy for a couple of months now.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The KCI Terminal Advisory Group recommended Wednesday that the city transform Kansas City International Airport into a single-terminal structure.

The recommendation comes from the 24-member task force Kansas City Mayor Sly James appointed last spring to study the issue. The group has been meeting bi-weekly for nearly a year to consider the airport's future.

Pages