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

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Ten more road projects in Kansas have been postponed indefinitely.

That’s in addition to the 24 that were put on hold last month.

“Yesterday we were informed that the 18 projects that were scheduled to be let in January, KDOT has reduced that down to eight,” says Bob Totten with the Kansas Contractors Association.

The cancelled road projects for December and January total more than $49 million. Kansas is facing a $348 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2017.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was in Kansas City Tuesday to announce her support for legislation that would increase penalties for government officials who steal public money.

Sen. Bob Dixon, a Springfield Republican, has pre-filed legislation that would make official misconduct in the first degree a felony carrying a possible four-year sentence. Currently, it's a misdemeanor. 

It would also give local prosecutors more time to recover damages in cases of fraud or corruption.

Adam Piotrowski / Flickr--CC

Donations to the Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City always drop off around the holidays, but lower-than-expected collections last month have led to a shortage.

“We try to collect more blood in anticipation of those days off, and we usually do OK,” says Executive Director David Graham. “But we had more of a challenge this year than normal. November is traditionally a strong month of blood collections for us, and it wasn’t quite as strong this year.”

Kansas Legislature, coloring by Kelly Tate

Next Monday, Dec. 5,  all the lawmakers elected to the Kansas Legislature will meet in Topeka to nominate new leadership for the 2017 session.

Without a doubt, there will be many more Democrats and moderate Republicans in the statehouse this time. Conservative Republicans lost roughly a third of their seats in the just-certified elections. 

But conservatives will still be the single biggest faction in both the House and the Senate, and so a lot depends on who they back for top posts. 

How many moderates?

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Schlitterbahn will tear down the world's tallest water slide after the investigation into a 10-year-old Kansas boy's death is complete.

Verrückt has been closed since Caleb Schwab died while riding it on Aug. 7. 

In a statement, spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said the Henry family, which owns Schlitterbahn, was "heartbroken" by what happened at its Kansas City, Kansas, water park:

Creative Commons-Wikimedia

This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

In a case likely to have nationwide repercussions, a Missouri gun dealer has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it negligently sold a gun to a schizophrenic woman who used it to kill her father.

“The $2.2 million settlement hits them in the pocketbook and makes clear to gun dealers across the country and their insurance companies that they need to act responsibly,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project.

Mindy Mazur / Women's Foundation

Are Missouri’s myriad occupational licensing requirements making it harder for women to enter the workforce?

A new study from the Women’s Foundation out Tuesdays suggests that while some licensing requirements protect the health and safety of Missourians, others limit women’s entry and re-entry into the workforce.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The latest Kansas revenue numbers could make it hard for freshman lawmakers from Johnson County to keep all their campaign promises.

On Thursday, state officials lowered the forecast for future tax collection once again. It’s expected Kansas will come up $350 million short this fiscal year, and $600 million next.

And instead of acting now to balance the budget, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is passing the buck to state lawmakers.

Kansas State Department of Education

About 41 percent of Kansas students are meeting grade-level expectations in English language arts and 34 percent in math, the State Department of Education announced Wednesday.

The 2016 results are statistically comparable to 2015, the year Kansas switched to new tests aligned with more rigorous learning standards.

“We did not see – and we realized we will not see – any dramatic spikes in our state assessment scores, not like what we saw in the past under No Child Left Behind,” says KSDE spokeswoman Denise Kahler.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The results are in, and for the first time in years, Kansas City Public received an accountability score from the state that qualifies it for full accreditation.

But it won’t be enough to convince the State Board the urban school district is back on track.

“We have been very clear that you need to show at least two years,” says Margie Vandeven, Missouri Commissioner of Education.

Still, KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell sees cause for celebration.

Kansas City Election Board

OK, Kansas City. It’s time to go online, visit your local election authority’s website, print off a sample ballot and do your research.

Lauri Ealom with the Kansas City Election Board is predicting long, long lines on Tuesday if people aren’t prepared.

That’s because the ballot is 18 inches long.

Front and back.

BigStock Images

Most of us have a week to go before the Big Vote. Kansans can cast their ballots early (and many are doing so), but Missourians have to wait until Nov. 8. For everyone who wants to vote on Election Day, here are some things you need to know:

1. What’s my registration status?

It doesn’t hurt to check before you go.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

“I love the chainsaw guys,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon interrupts.

Dwain Carter, director of disaster relief for the Missouri Baptists, is trying to tell the group what his organization does in the aftermath of a tornado. Often tree limbs and wooden structures need to be removed by chainsaw crews. But Carter lets the governor continue.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Against the backdrop of a presidential election in which gender issues have come to the fore, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Koster was in Kansas City Wednesday to meet with women business leaders.

Koster says he’s proud of both the gender balance and pay equity in the attorney general’s office. He’d like to see equal pay protection extended to all Missouri women.

“We want to make sure that work environments are family friendly,” Koster says.

Courtesy of Melissa Boohar

Updated, 10:20 a.m. Monday: The timeline has been updated to include additional documentation from the Secretary of State's Office regarding the language printed on DMV receipts in July.

Despite a court order clearing the way for them to vote this November, Kansans who registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles were still being told they would need to provide proof of citizenship up until an Oct. 18 deadline.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Virginia resident Clay Chastain has another yet another proposal for Kansas City voters – a $2 billion plan to build light rail from the airport to the Cerner campus in south Kansas City.

“The streetcar expansion isn’t going to help a low income person get to a job,” says Chastain, who’s proposed numerous transit projects since moving away from Kansas City 15 years ago. “We need better transit to help people that need transit.”

Wikimedia--CC

Updated, 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17:

The Johnson County courthouse is old, outdated and doesn’t meet accessibility standards – now it’s up to voters to decide if it should be replaced.

A proposed 1/4-cent sales tax would pay for a new, $182 million courthouse to be built just across Santa Fe Street from the existing courthouse in Olathe.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the sexual assault of a female deputy abducted from a parking lot near the central booking facility Friday night.

Captain Brian Hill says it doesn't appear the woman was targeted because she was law enforcement.

"At our current point in our investigation, we don't have any evidence that she specifically was targeted," Hill said at a news conference Monday. "But again, we're two days into this. Some more information may become available that indicates otherwise."

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Residents of South Kansas City heard updates on a variety of commercial projects at an economic development summit sponsored by the neighborhood alliance Saturday.

“It’s easy access,” said Ron Coker, a senior vice president at Burns & McDonnell, which just completed an expansion at 9450 Ward Parkway that will house 1,400 engineers, architects and construction specialists.

“If your business requires mobility, it’s a great, central location," Coker added, noting that much of the Burns & McDonnell workforce is spread across the city.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Growing up in Shawnee, Tom Cox remembers looking up to “traditional Republicans.”

Politicians like Bill Graves, Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum – Kansans who were willing to reach across the aisle and set political ideology aside in the interest of public policy.

“My pitch at the door? ‘I’m running against a Brownback Republican, and I’m an anti-Brownback Republican,’” Cox says. “We need to save our state,” Cox says. “We need to focus on tax reform, education reform and protecting local governments as a start.”

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Supporters of a $227 million plan to expand Kansas City’s streetcar system south to UMKC got their day in court Thursday – as did opponents.

“Putting down rails is something you do to invest for the century,” says Midtown resident Ryan Mott, adding that two blighted homes in his neighborhood have sold amid speculation that the streetcar is headed their way.

Gib Kerr, a commercial real estate broker at Cushman & Wakefield, says he’s spent most of the last 20 years watching companies leave downtown.

Gustavo Castillo / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Kansas City Public Schools after a school resource officer handcuffed a second grader.

The incident happened in 2014, says ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman, after 7-year-old Kalyb Wiley Primm began to cry in class.

Mittman says Primm had been bullied.

“He didn’t want to go with the officer, who was being scary,” Mittman says. “Instead of calming the child, instead of reassuring him, instead of finding out what was wrong, the officer yelled at him, told him to stop crying and then handcuffed him.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Ministers and union leaders rallied Wednesday at Barney Allis Plaza in downtown Kansas City in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Missourians to show a photo ID before voting.

“This gathering is about the holding hands again of labor and faith as they did more than 50 years ago on the Washington Mall,” says Rev. Bob Hill, former pastor of Community Christian Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Speaking at a campaign stop in Lee’s Summit Friday, Missouri Republican gubernatorial hopeful Eric Greitens tried to position himself as more qualified than his Democratic opponent to lead on race relations.

“If you’re happy with Ferguson, you can vote for Chris Koster,” Greitens told the packed room. “If you’re happy with what you’re seeing at the University of Missouri, you can vote for Chris Koster.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon won’t be defending anyone.

Michael Barrett, the state’s public defender, earlier this month tried to assign the governor a case, citing an overburdened system and budget cuts from the state. Though Barrett argued he had the authority to do so under Missouri law, a Cole County judge on Thursday disagreed.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The last time the New Madrid fault really shook, Missouri wasn’t a state yet. It wasn’t even a territory. President James Madison was in the White House.

And he thought someone was trying to break in.

“When we had this event in 1811, it was strong enough to make the Mississippi River run backwards,” says Jackson County Emergency Manager Mike Curry. “It rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Every other Wednesday, the Rollin’ Grocer truck parts outside the Victoria Arms Building so residents can buy fresh food.

“Kansas City is the No. 6 city in the nation for food deserts,” says Natasha Ria El-Scari with Rollin’ Grocer. “Anywhere there’s more than one mile of walking distance or you have to catch more than two buses to get there is considered a food desert.”

There’s a Thriftway closer than that, but many of the people who live here are elderly or disabled. They’d have to cross 63rd Street in walkers or wheelchairs.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A standoff in Kansas City, Kansas, ended Tuesday afternoon when law enforcement officers at the scene decided the risk of injury to bystanders outweighed serving an arrest warrant.

The standoff began around 8:20 a.m. with a man at 5701 Parallel Parkway refusing to come out of a house.

KCK Police Chief Terry Zeigler tweeted shortly before noon that his officers had come to the assistance of U.S. Marshals trying to serve a warrant to the man, who had failed to register as a sex offender.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Too often, says Kansas City Mayor Sly James, adults tell teenagers where they can’t go without telling them where they can.

That’s why Jackson County COMBAT on Monday opened what it’s calling the “Hope Hangout” in south Kansas City.

“We know we have problems in the city with violence,” says James. “We don’t need to add to it. We need to subtract from it. That means we always have to be on point, giving our kids something they can do.”

The center has long been a dream of Marva Moses with the Hickman Mills Prevention Coalition.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s efforts to secure increased funding for the National Institutes of Health has earned him recognition from The Science Coalition.

Yoder convinced more than 100 Republican lawmakers to sign a letter calling for the largest increase in NIH funding since 2003.

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