The Jefferson County R-VII School District was lauded for its academic achievement today as Governor Jay Nixon visited Jefferson High School to congratulate the students and staff on the results of the Missouri School Improvement Program. The district scored a 90.4 percent rating on the 2013 Annual Performance Report. This is the tenth straight year Jefferson R-VII has been acknowledged for its academic performance. In praising the district, Governor Nixon said, "When teachers, staff, parents and the community work together to ensure a quality education for their children, we are making a real investment in the future of our economy and state.” The Governor also applauded Jefferson High School for being a Missouri A+ designated school, which allows qualified students to apply for scholarships for two years of tuition and fees at any of Missouri’s community colleges. To be eligible for the program, students must meet academic achievement standards, conduct and attendance requirements, and perform 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring service. Missouri’s high school graduation rate now ranks eighth highest in the nation.
After hours of public interviews, deliberations and voting, the Appellate Judicial Commission of Missouri has endorsed three nominees for a vacant position on the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that two St. Louis-area attorneys and one St. Louis judge are the nominees. St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael P. David and attorneys James Dowd of Webster Groves and Philip Hess of Sunset Hills are vying to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Kathianne Knaup Crane. Crane stepped away in August after serving for 23 years on the Court of Appeals. Governor Nixon has 60 days to select one member of the panel to fill the vacancy. Should he fail to do so, the Missouri Constitution directs the Appellate Judicial Commission to make the appointment.
Make a change or the dollars won't be there. That is the message from a financial review of the Wentzville Fire Protection District. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the district could be out of money by the end of 2014 if changes are not made. The Post-Dispatch obtained the audit through a Sunshine Law request. The audit made 12 recommendations including that all capital spending be placed on hold until the district’s finances improve. At the end of 2012, the report says reserves totaled $1 million, which would cover only seven weeks of district operations. The internal review, prepared by Rognan & Associates, said the district has been spending more than it has been taking in since 2010, but “no mention of these deficits can be found in any district budget.” The reports adds that a category referred to as “‘Money carried from prior year" appears to be disguising each year’s budget deficit from the board to the detriment of the district. The analysis advised that several spending procedures be reviewed, including the number of people who have access to district credit cards. It also suggested creating a policy regarding acceptable purchases made with the cards, and an accounting of voided checks, missing checks and checks used out of numerical sequence. The Post-Dispatch says the district’s attorney and spokesman, Dan McLaughlin, could not be reached for comment. It is unclear if any changes have been made to spending and accounting practices because of the review. According to the newspaper, the audit preceded the departure of four senior officers which included the resignation of Chief Randy Bornhop, the layoff of Fire Inspector Chris Newbold, the termination of Assistant Chief Robb Watkins and the placement of Fire Marshal Joseph Heitkamp on indefinite paid leave.