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Headlines for Saturday, September 3, 2016

Plan Revives Old Tensions in Kansas School Funding Debate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new funding plan from a group of Kansas school administrators is reviving longstanding regional tensions and spotlighting questions about whether the state spends enough on public education. One part of the plan was similar to a complex formula to dole out nearly $4.1 billion yearly that legislators junked last year. Instead, legislators went for predictable "block grants" for districts that allow the state to better control its spending. But other provisions represent a radical departure from past policy, such as stripping local districts of their power to tax. The state would instead raise property taxes statewide as a way to prevent poorer schools from falling too far behind wealthier ones.


Larned Psychiatric Hospital: State's Biggest Overtime Spender

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas psychiatric hospital that's had a dramatic staff shortage in recent years spent more on overtime pay last year than any other state agency or facility. The Wichita Eagle reports Larned State Hospital paid its roughly 600 employees $3.8 million in overtime during fiscal 2016, which ended in June. That amounts to nearly a quarter of the state's total overtime costs for the year. The next-closest agency was the Kansas Department of Transportation, which has about three times more staff members but spent about $2.1 million on overtime. Tim Keck, interim director of the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, says overtime hours at Larned have been steadily falling since he took the helm in January.


University: Ex-player had 'Non-Consensual Sex' with Student

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas concluded that a former football player had "non-consensual sex" with one female student and violated the school's sexual harassment policy with another student who also alleges she was sexually assaulted. The Kansas City Star obtained letters signed by the university's vice provost of student affairs that say a university investigation recommended that the ex-player, Jordan Goldenberg, be permanently expelled. Goldenberg has not been criminally charged. Attorneys for Goldenberg say he denies the sex-assault allegations and withdrew from the university in lieu of expulsion. A phone number listed for his family's home in Missouri has been disconnected. The women have sued the university and spoken publicly, alleging they were sexually assaulted in a residence hall by the same then-football player. The lawsuits don't name Goldenberg.


Kansas Man Gets Life Sentence for Infant's Death

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas man was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years in the death of a 6-month-old boy. District Court Judge Mark Ward yesterday (FRI) sentenced 22-year-old Anthony Michael Anderson of Fulton. He was convicted in May in Bourbon County of first-degree murder and child abuse. The child died in April 2015 after he was injured in Fort Scott. Fort Scott police said at the time that officers were called to a Fort Scott home and found the child injured. Police say the child was injured at a different address. Investigators were first told the child, whose name has not been officially released, had fallen off a sofa.


Ex-Kansas Governors Campaign for Supreme Court Justices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four former Kansas governors are launching a bipartisan campaign next week to retain Kansas Supreme Court justices in November's election. Three invitation-only events with former Republican Governors Mike Hayden and Bill Graves and former Democratic Governors John Carlin and Kathleen Sebelius are sponsored by Kansans for Fair Courts. It says it wants to keep the state's courts independent. The first event is Tuesday morning at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. The others are Tuesday afternoon in Topeka and Wednesday morning in Wichita. Voters will determine whether five of the seven justices receive another six-year term. They are Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles, Marla Luckert and Caleb Stegall. Conservatives are targeting all of them except Stegall. He is Republican Governor Sam Brownback's only appointee.


Kansas Low-Head Dams Pose Dangers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — As more people canoe and kayak on Kansas waterways, concerns about low-head dams are growing. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas has an estimated 100 such dams, but no state regulations for warning signs. So far this year, 22 deaths have been reported at low-head dams nationwide. The victims include Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian from Garden Plain. He died this summer after trying to help a fellow kayaker who went over one such dam in the Arkansas River in Wichita. The hydrology behind low-head dams is why experts call them "drowning machines." As water flows over the top of the dam, it creates a circular current on the down-river side. That causes people and debris to be pulled down, up and back toward the dam in an unrelenting cycle.


Patrol: Hitchhiker Dies after Kansas Turnpike Accident

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a man who apparently was hitchhiking died after being hit by two vehicles on the interstate. The patrol says the man was hit Thursday night on Interstate 70 about six miles east of Lawrence. Authorities say that the 42-year-old man from the St. Louis area was struck by two vehicles. The first vehicle didn't stop but the second vehicle's driver stopped and cooperated with investigators. The man died at the scene.


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