Top Stories Of The Week | KCUR

Top Stories Of The Week

Dec 16, 2011

Transportation officials proposed cell phone bans.  Kansas City school officials prepared for a student exodus to other districts.  And Kansas Governor Sam Brownback released the details of his shool funding proposal.   KCUR's Steve Bell reviews those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.

Brownback Unveils School Funding Plan

Governor Sam Brownback would level the playing field by favoring Kansas school districts where property values are low. To make up for that th4e plan removes the cap on how much districts can raise locally through property taxes.

State Board of Education member Janet Waugh says that could make it tough for districts like Kansas City, Kansas, with many at-risk and ESL students.  Waugh says it would be difficult to raise local taxes in an area like Wyandotte County, which she says is not for the most part well-to-do, and already heavily taxed.

An AP analysis says 182 districts would gain funding, but those that don't include the state's largest districts, which have 75 percent of Kansas' students.

KC District Struggles With Transfer Plan

In Kansas City, Missouri, the schools focus was on the looming loss of accreditation and a state law that says such districts must pay the tuition and transportation costs for students who want to transfer out to neighboring districts.

Independence Superintendent Jim Hinson said the transfers could cause some problems for the district being transferred into.  For example, he says, his district is already over capacity on elementary students.

The Kansas City District presented a plan, promising to pay most costs for students transferring to Independence, Raytown, Center or North Kansas City. On Friday, North Kansas City balked, because there was no promise of full tuition up-front.

Chiefs Fire Haley

The day after a 37-10 loss to the New York Jets, the Chiefs fired head coach Todd Haley. Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli credited Haley with being a good coach, but said a change would remedy the inconsistency which has plagued the team.

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will be interim head coach.

Weis Signs $12 M Contract At KU

Charlie Weis, hired last week as head football coach at KU, meantime, signed a 5-year contract that could pay him up to $3 million a year, with a $12 million minimum, even if he is fired before five years.

Tech Exec Wolfe To Head MU System

If he makes his bonuses, former Novell Americas president Tim Wolfe could earn about $550,000 a year as new president of the University of Missouri System. Wolfe said the transition from business to education will require some "all nighters" to bone up on the world of education and the four universities he will run.  Wolfe's parents were both college professors.

Truckers Face Cell Bans, Expansion Unlikely

MoDOT reaction was swift to a new NTSB regulation prohibiting drivers of large commercial vehicles from using cell phones. The Missouri agency”s Steve Potter says the rule will be enforced effective January 3rd and added that MoDOT welcomes any rule that will help curb distracted driving.  Expanding the prohibition beyond bus and truck drivers would require action by the state legislatures.

Siedlecki Leaving Kansas SRS

Kansas SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki announced that he step down at the end of the year. Siedlecki was often criticized, especially by Democrats, as he closed SRS offices and advocated faith-based solutions. 

Seidlecki was recrited from Florida. Governor Brownback says his replacement will likely come from Kansas.