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COTTLEVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A panel of Missouri lawmakers came to suburban St. Louis on Monday for some firsthand testimony about the challenges of the state's school transfer rules.

Several area superintendents asked the interim House Committee on Education to seek a long-term fix to what they called a short-term solution to the problem of relocating students from failing school districts to better-performing ones.

The public hearing at St. Charles Community College came just weeks after hundreds of students from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens began the fall semester riding buses to schools up to 20 to 30 miles away, with their former districts absorbing the added costs.

A second meeting is planned Monday night in St. Louis. Additional sessions are planned Tuesday and Wednesday in Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Branson and Joplin.

 

Monday, 23 September 2013 17:32
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The Superintendent of Normandy Schools unveiled his plan to take the district back to accreditation.

Ty McNichols held a forum Monday to correct any misinformation about the district and lay out the 100-day plan. McNichols' plan focuses on improving graduation rates and attendance. The largest immediate obstacle for the district a huge financial shortfall. Normandy has to cover the costs for 1,000 students who transferred. That equates to a $15 million bill. McNichols says nothing is off the table to balance the budget, including staffing cuts and class consolidations.

Parents are invited to a second forum, Tuesday night at 6 PM, at the Indian Trails Library.

Monday, 23 September 2013 15:30
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St. Louis Police are giving vehicle owners a chance to keep their cars safe on the cheap.

They’re selling auto clubs for just $13, license plate covers for $5, and license plate fasteners for just $3. The sale is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Central West End at the NSI office on North Euclid and all transactions are cash only.

Monday, 23 September 2013 15:28
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JENNINGS, Mo. (AP) - It wasn't long ago that the Jennings School District in north St. Louis County was on the verge of losing accreditation, just like the neighboring Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts did. Instead, Jennings is now in the midst of a turnaround.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that parents are more involved, attendance is up, test scores are rising and discipline problems are declining in Jennings.

Many credit superintendent Tiffany Anderson, who has gotten rid of underperforming teachers and principals and hired about 30 new teachers. She also reduced central office staff to free up money for classrooms and extended the school year for students in an accelerated middle school program.

 

Monday, 23 September 2013 15:14
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STANDARD, Ill. (AP) - A dog fell 23 feet into a northern Illinois well, then dog-paddled for two hours until firefighters could hoist him to safety.

It happened Saturday near the tiny Putnam County town of Standard when a Goldendoodle named Doogie ran to greet a worker who had opened the top of the family's well to inspect it.

Homeowners Arch and Judy Hopkins called the ordeal "horrifying."

Doogie alternated between swimming and extending his legs to wedge himself from wall to wall while firefighters figured out how to get him out.

They feared he might fall again if they used a harness made for people.

Eventually he was hoisted out after a firefighter rappelled into the well and got the dog into a mesh body bag, which allowed air water to pass through.

Monday, 23 September 2013 13:12
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No explosive devices were found at Francis Howell North after a bomb threat was discovered Monday morning.

Just before 11 AM, the threat was found written on a bathroom wall. School officials evacuated students to the nearby Francis Howell Central. St. Peters Police and the St. Louis Airport Canine unit search the building, but found no explosive devices.

The school posted a message to Facebook saying students were being moved back to Francis Howell North and after school activities would continue as planned.

Officials remind students that false bomb threats are illegal.

The full letter is below:

Dear Parents/Guardians:

This is a follow-up to the building evacuation that began this morning at Francis Howell North (FHN) High School due to a bomb threat. 

The building was completely evacuated and students and staff were relocated to Francis Howell Central (FHC) High School. Officials from the St. Peters Police Department and the St. Louis Airport Canine Unit arrived on campus immediately to conduct a thorough inspection. No explosive devices were found. Students and staff will return to FHN beginning at 1:00 PM. After school events will continue as planned. Students will follow the end of day dismissal procedures from FHN and school will be held as usual on Tuesday, September 24. 

Bomb threats are taken very seriously and represent a potential danger to the safety and welfare of students and staff. Such threats disrupt the instructional program and learning environment and also place significant demands on school resources and public safety services. False bomb threats are a crime under Missouri law, and charges will be filed if the individual responsible for this incident is caught.

I encourage parents to talk with your child about the seriousness of threats and the importance of reporting suspicious activities, threats or disturbing information to a trusted adult. 

I would like to compliment the students, staff and authorities for the way they handled this situation.

Sincerely,

Jack Ameis

FHN Associate Principal

 
Monday, 23 September 2013 13:02
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A Springfield utility is planning to partner with two companies to build what would be the largest solar farm in Missouri.

City Utilities says it will work with Solexus Development in St. Louis and Strata Solar of North Carolina to build the 4.95 megawatt system, with construction to begin next spring.

The Springfield News-Leader reports the companies expect to finalize a contract Monday. The system will be built on 57 acres next to an existing City Utilities generation station near Springfield.

Under the 25-year agreement, Solexus will develop the project and Strata Solar will build, finance and operate it. City Utilities' will connect the system to existing infrastructure, then buy the solar power the system produces.

The system is expected to produce about 9.6 million kilowatt hours per year.

 

Monday, 23 September 2013 11:40
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Fans of the one and only Cher will have a chance to see the music icon in the Gateway City next year as the she announced Monday that she will kick off her “Dressed To Kill” North American Tour beginning in Phoenix on March 22. The 67 year old will embark on the 49 city tour which will include stops in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Las Vegas. Cher will appear in St. Louis at Scottrade Center on Wednesday, June 4. She has scheduled concerts in Kansas City and Louisville in the days before she is in St. Louis, and in Milwaukee and Chicago in the days after. Updated ticket information can be found on Cher.com.  Cher will also be appearing as a mentor with Blake Shelton on NBC’s The Voice airing in October.

Monday, 23 September 2013 11:34
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The many issues surrounding education in Missouri has lawmakers taking a closer look at student transfers, teacher evaluations and school safety. An interim House committee on education is holding hearings on those and other topics this week in several communities.  Meetings today in St. Charles and St. Louis will focus on student transfers out of unaccredited districts. This fall, students from the Riverview Gardens and Normandy districts became the first in Missouri to transfer to neighboring districts. Meanwhile, the Joint Committee on Education has scheduled a hearing October 1 in Jefferson City focused solely on student transfers.

   

 
Monday, 23 September 2013 11:05
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A wetlands restoration project, which will help improve the habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl in both Illinois and Missouri, has received a grant and matching funds totaling $3-million. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved $1 million in funding for a project to protect and restore almost 2,900 acres of breeding, migration and winter habitat in southwestern Illinois and St. Charles County, Mo. The oversight company, Ducks Unlimited for Bottomlands of the Great Rivers, and its partners, will provide more than $2 million in matching money. Residential and commercial development has hurt wetlands and caused erosion and runoff.  The project will focus on the Big Muddy River Bottoms and Cache River Basin areas within the Shawnee National Forest and the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. 

Monday, 23 September 2013 10:33
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