Sunday, September 14, 2014

C. J. Huff's latest blog- About high school parking, Stapleton, and Irving

In his latest blog, Joplin R-8 Superintendent addresses the parking situation at the new Joplin High School and the staff changes that have caused so much consternation at Stapleton and Irving elementary schools.

  • Today's topic: JHS/FTC parking and staff changes at Irving and Stapleton Elementary Schools

    Posted by Dr. CJ Huff at 9/11/2014 8:00:00 AM
    Parking at JHS/FTC:

    I’ve had several questions from parents and staff regarding the parking at JHS/FTC and whether there are fewer spaces than at the old high school.

    Here are the numbers:

    · 450: the number of student parking spaces at the old JHS/FTC combined
    · 507: the number of student parking spaces at the new JHS/FTC when the construction of the performing arts center is complete
    · 442: the number of student parking spaces currently available at the new JHS/FTC
    · 435: the number of student parking permits we have sold to date

    So, the short answer is we have eight fewer student spaces at the moment, but we have more spaces than the number of permits purchased by students.

    If you have additional questions about parking at the high school, check out this Q&Aon the high school website.

    Here’s a breakdown of the types of paved parking spaces at JHS/FTC:
    · 169: staff parking spaces (9 more than the old JHS/FTC combined)
    · 507: final number of student parking spaces (when construction is complete, 57 more than the old JHS/FTC)
    · 43: number of visitor spaces (21 more than the old JHS/FTC)
    · 21: number of handicap spaces (8 more than the old JHS/FTC)

    In addition, we have space for future parking should we need it.
    Staff changes at Irving and Stapleton:

    At the beginning of every school year, we analyze our enrollment and make adjustments accordingly. We do look at initial enrollment numbers before the start of every school year and build our staffing plan based on that, but every year we have to make changes. It may surprise some that we have to wait until after the start of the school year. Believe it or not, our enrollment numbers change daily the first and second week of school. There are some parents who wait until after the start of the school year to enroll their students. We also have many families in our district who move into, out of, and within our district, and it affects our staffing needs not only at the start of the year but also throughout the year. This is especially true these last two or three years as our community rebuilds from the May 2011 disaster.

    As you may have heard, this year the changes included moving three teachers (kindergarten, first, and second grade) from Stapleton, whose enrollment numbers have declined, to Irving, whose enrollment numbers jumped this school year. It was certainly not an ideal situation, but we made these changes to ensure that we have appropriate class sizes at both schools. Our principals and teachers have worked hard to make the transition as smooth as possible and to help our students and parents adjust.

    We certainly don’t like to move teachers after the start of the school year. However, the good news is that the growth at Irving indicates that families are moving back into the neighborhoods damaged or destroyed by the May 2011 tornado. We think that this is a great thing for Joplin.

    At the end of September, we submit our enrollment numbers to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. We will share these “official” numbers with you then. We’re excited to see our community recovering and our preliminary enrollment numbers are certainly showing that recovery. We will continue to watch enrollment patterns throughout the district as we plan ahead for the next school year.
    Until next time,

Auditors question district's graduation rate improvements

An audit of the Dallas school district shows no indication that students who had excessive absences actually completed their course work before being allowed to graduate:

Dallas ISD has touted its soaring high school graduation rate, but a new district investigation raises questions about whether some seniors — up to a quarter of the Class of 2013 — should have earned diplomas.

An internal audit found 1,821 of that year’s 7,302 graduates missed too many classes. Yet there’s little documentation to show they made up class time as required by state law.

Graduation rates across the state skyrocketed after the 2007-08 school year, when a Texas law first allowed students to get course credit if they participated in plans designed by their principals to make up for absences. In DISD, just 63 percent of the Class of 2007 graduated, but the rate climbed steadily over the next five years, with diplomas awarded to 84 percent of the Class of 2013.

(Note: It is amazing how often auditors discover things like this.)

Mike Kelley: Gov. Nixon made the wrong choices

In his latest newsletter, Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, reviews the just-completed veto session:

Members of the Missouri House stood in defense of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens Wednesday as we overturned dozens of the governor’s decisions to veto funding to vital state services. I consider the day a huge victory for Missouri families and businesses as the Missouri General Assembly overrode the governor’s vetoes of spending items for education, health care, senior services and economic development, as well as many other vital programs.

I have said all along that the governor has made the wrong choices in where to cut money from this budget and I still believe these cuts were unneeded and meant to put political pressure on the votes cast during veto session. While he and his state agencies spend thousands of dollars on Sirius Satellite Radio, memberships to the National Goat Association and out of state travel, he vetoes vital funding to help victims of sexual assault, children with autism, or any of a number extremely deserving programs. It’s all about priorities, and Governor Nixon’s fiscal priorities continue to be different than my constituents.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

AP: New video emerges in Ferguson shooting

Legislative override could weaken ability to combat neighborhood nuisances

In her latest report, Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, reviews the just-completed veto session.

During the recent veto session, the Republican-controlled General Assembly voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of legislation that its supporters claim will make it easier for neighborhood associations to pursue civil legal action against the owners of nuisance properties. However, the measure, Senate Bill 731, will instead severely weaken the ability of neighborhood associations and individual property owners to combat nuisance and neglected properties that can adversely affect property values in the area.

Among the changes, it prohibits neighborhood associations from brining nuisance actions if they charge members annual dues of more than $25. Many associations find it necessary to levy dues in excess of $25 a year in order to have the financial resources to bring nuisance actions and perform their other basic functions.

As a result, SB 731 creates a paradox for neighborhood associations. If they charge dues sufficient to cover the costs of doing their jobs, they won't have legal standing to file nuisance claims. If they lower their annual dues to $25 per member, they will have legal standing to bring such claims but might not have the financial resources necessary to do so.

Children's school photos, child porn writing found in accused killer's home

A purple folder found in the apartment of accused killer Craig Michael Wood contained material that sickened the officers who found out- and gave police what they say is a blueprint to how the former Springfield Pleasant View Middle School coach kidnapped, raped, and murdered 10-year-old Hailey Owens.

Documents filed in Greene County Circuit Court indicate that an FBI search warrant uncovered the purple folder in a dresser drawer in Wood's bedroom. It contained images of child pornography, school photos of "female children similar in age to the victim, along with handwritten erotic stories detailing the rapes of female minor children."

Also found in the drawer, according to the court documents, were "student records from a Springfield public school."

After investigating the material, police discovered that the names of two of the children in the handwritten stories matched the names of the two of the children in the school photos.

A motions hearing is scheduled for October 2 in Greene County Circuit Court.

Wood is charged with first degree murder, rape, sodomy, kidnapping, and armed criminal action in connection with the February 18 death of Hailey Owens, whose body was found in plastic bags in Wood's basement.

The probable cause statement can be found at this link.

Prosecutor asks that victim's family be allowed to attend former Webb City principal's murder trial

Normally, there would be no question about a murder victim's family being allowed to attend the trial and all hearings for the accused murderer, but Gary and Jan Tyrrell's family is also on the witness list.

Witnesses are routinely kept from attending other portions of a trial to keep from having their testimony influenced.

Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Patterson filed  a motion for victim's rights August 29, asking that the Tyrrell family be allowed to attend all hearings in the case against former Webb City High School Principal Mark Porter, who is charged with two counts of first degree murder in connection with the April 30 slayiings of the Tyrrells at their Springfield home.

Porter's preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 22.

Motions hearing set for former Jasper teacher's aide on sex charges

A pre-trial motions hearing is scheduled 9 a.m. Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court for former Jasper High School teacher's aide Janice Rusk, 43, who is charged with statutory rape and statutory sodomy.

Rusk was bound over for trial after waiving her preliminary hearing July 23

The Jasper County Sheriff's Department began its investigation after being told by the Jasper Police Department of reports of sexual contact between Ms. Rusk and "several juvenile males," according to the probable cause statement.