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.

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If your body could talk to you about your health, what would it say? Today, we learn about the inner-workings of the human body. Then, we discover what yearbooks, newspapers and personal letters say about the world young women from the Kansas City area lived in, years before suffrage.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools Supt. Mark Bedell says he’s done observing – it’s time to act.

Last month, Bedell outlined his plan to move KCPS forward in a 22-page report that recapped his experiences visiting schools during his first 100 days as superintendent.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The family of a Kansas boy who died last summer while riding a slide at Schlitterbahn has reached a settlement with the water park.

Caleb Schwab, 10, was killed Aug. 7, 2016, while riding Verrückt, an attraction Schlitterbahn billed as the world’s tallest water slide.

It was Elected Official Day at the water park – Schwab’s father is Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri has slipped another spot in a national ranking of teacher pay.

“Missouri teachers are earning even less compared to national average as they did last year,” Aurora Meyer, spokeswoman for the Missouri State Teachers Association, says. “Overall, Missouri dropped a spot to 43rd nationwide for average classroom teacher salary.”

The ranking is based on data from the National Education Association and the National Center for Education Statistics.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Hickman Mills Supt. Dennis Carpenter will soon have a new job at the Lee's Summit R-7 School District.

“How do you live in a metropolitan area and believe yourself to be a school leader and not jump at the opportunity to serve as superintendent in one of the top places to live in this country?” Carpenter said Monday at a news conference.

The Lee's Summit Board of Education is finalizing Carpenter’s contract for the 2017-18 school year. It’s likely to be approved at the Jan. 19 board meeting.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Again and again during his time in office, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon returned to Magna Seating, an automotive parts manufacturer in Excelsior Springs.

“Well, this is a plant that’s taken a hit and kept on ticking,” Nixon said Friday during his statewide farewell tour. “It’s bigger and stronger than it was before.”

Nixon says the first time he visited the plant, workers were still making seats for the Ford Escape. But by 2012, Ford had shifted production of the Escape to Louisville, and Magna Seating was close to shutting down.

Gustavo Castillo / Wikimedia Commons

A change in state statute is unlikely to make more schoolyard fights felonies.

When Missouri lawmakers made third degree assault a Class E felony, up from a misdemeanor, two school districts in the St. Louis area issued dire warnings that the criminal code revisions could have a dramatic impact on school discipline.

Kansas City, Kansas, Police

The man who killed Kansas City, Kansas, Police Detective Brad Lancaster in May 2016 pleaded guilty Tuesday.

In addition to capital murder, Curtis Ayers pleaded guilty to nine other counts in a crime spree that began when he shot 39-year-old Lancaster outside the Hollywood Casino May 9.

Ayers still faces charges in Leavenworth County, Kansas, and Jackson County, Missouri, where he was apprehended after a long chase.

Gwen's River City Images / Flickr--CC

It’s not a trick of the light – the water flowing from Kansas City taps is faintly pink.

The culprit? Too much sodium permanganate, a chemical added during the water treatment process.

“When the Missouri River has what we call a high color content, when there are a lot of silts and clays in the river, there may be some materials that some people find unappealing,” Mike Klender, plant manager, says. “Part of our treatment process is to use sodium permanganate to combat those taste issues.”

elisfkc / Flickr--CC

An estimated 40,000 travelers will pass through Kansas City International Airport Tuesday. Airport officials expect about 12 percent more passengers this holiday season compared to 2015.

They’ve seen 31 consecutive months of growth.

“We’re really busy, not only with folks traveling home after spending the Christmas weekend with family, but also those that are ready to depart on a winter break vacation, maybe a ski trip,” airport spokesman Justin Meyer says.

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.”

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