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Sat August 24, 2013
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Governor Sam Brownback appointed an appellate court judge, but wouldn't identify the candidates he considered. And Kansas City schools got a much-improved report card. KCUR's Steve Bell recaps on those and other top stories of the week.
KC schools show gains; but no accreditation this time
Under a new grading system, the Kansas City School District got a score of 60 percent – ten percent more than the score required for provisional accreditation. But Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro sand proficiency scores in key academic areas are still lacking. She also said no schools will lose or regain accreditation until there's at least two years of data from the new evaluation system.
The Kansas City school board will remain in place, but will see more involvement by the state department and evaluation by an Indianapolis Consulting company that will make suggestions for future improvement.
Kansas City superintendent Stephen Green hoped reaccreditation would come as soon as possible. He said having to pay the costs of students transferring to adjacent accredited districts would be unfair. Green also was optimistic that the improvement will continue.
Statewide, MAP test scores were up some subjects, down in others, and the gap between scores for whites and minorities widened.
Gov. Brownback appointes staffer to appeals court
Governor Sam Brownback named his first appellate court appointee since a new system took a citizens nominating commission out of the process. He chose his chief legal advisor, Caleb Stegall.
Brownback said Stegall was by far the most qualified judge appointed in recent years.
Top Senate Democrat Anthony Hensley called it “cronyism,” but had little chance of blocking confirmation of Stegall by his chamber.
The League of Women Voters filed an open records request seeking the names of all the candidates Brownback considered. Dolores Furtado of the league said it was a matter of transparency in government. But the governor has said the the open records law doesn't cover that... and releasing names of candidates makes some reluctant to apply.
Kansas, Arizona sue federal election commission
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach tried to turn the tables on the feds, announcing that Kansas and Arizona would sue the government for not honoring their laws requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. The suit names a federal election assistance commission that currently has no members.
The ACLU has threatened to sue Kansas in federal court if the state does not drop its requirement that first-time registrants show proof of citizenship.
Medical research sales tax meets opposition
Jackson County had its first public hearing on a proposed sales tax for medical research, with former Chamber of Commerce president Pete Levy in there pitching, saying the cost to the average citizen would be less than $4 per month.
No opposition appeared at the meeting, but even before the tax is scheduled for a vote, a TV campaign against it popped up.
Campaign for Nixon veto override intensifies
Republicans doubled down on drumming up support for an override of Governor Nixon's veto of a tax cut bill, bringing in Texas Governor Rick Perry while an ad campaign featuring Perry popped up in which he called the veto “a tax increase” and implied that businesses should come to his state, where the tax climate is friendlier.
Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander accused Perry of..”going around making speeches” to “damage the economy of another state,” and at least one radio station canceled the ads after hearing their content.
While all this was going on, another conservative business group, the Missouri Club for Growth, vowed to recruit and back candidates to run against every legislator who did not vote to override.
School bus accident injures 23
The community cringed when a Pembroke Hill School bus overturned on a Bonner Springs exit ramp, injuring the driver and 22 6th grade girls. Nobody was seriously hurt, and at the scene state trooper Howard Dickson told tv-9 shortly after the wreck that most of the injuries were bumps, scrapes and bruises.
The Kansas City Star reported that there are reports of previous safety problems at that ramp, and that it had recently been re-graded after a spate of accidents.