Headlines for Monday, November 9, 2015
Kansas Officials Approve $4.2M in Emergency Aid for 25 School Districts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback and top legislators have approved $4.2 million in emergency aid for 25 public school districts after trimming back their requests. Brownback and eight top lawmakers reviewed the requests Monday under a school funding law enacted earlier this year. They approved a previous round of aid in August. The districts sought $6.5 million for greater student numbers, unexpected drops in property tax revenues or other reasons. Brownback and legislative leaders approved 66 percent of their requests. The Wichita district sought $980,000 for additional teachers and classroom aides for an influx of refugee children. The amount was reduced to $367,000 because of uncertainty about refugee numbers. The meeting came three days after the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the funding law complies with the state constitution.
Property Taxes on the Rise in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Property taxes are expected to increase this year for patrons of most Kansas school districts. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the projected increases come as the Kansas Supreme Court considers whether public schools are underfunded. Homeowners in most of the state's districts saw their bills for supporting schools shrink last school year after an influx of court-ordered aid to schools. The average drop in property taxes among 286 school districts was 2 mills. This year, preliminary data from the Kansas State Department of Education indicates the average rate is expected to rise by 1.8 mills. Some superintendents say a controversial change in the state's financing of K-12 education is the reason. Other school leaders in western Kansas say the oil and gas industry is a key factor.
Officials Say Economic Recovery Unbalanced in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Government officials and economists say economic recovery has not been uniform across Kansas since the recession, leaving some areas behind. Wichita State University economist Kenneth Kriz says a major amount of job growth since the end of the recession has happened in northeast Kansas in the Kansas City metropolitan area and the surrounding counties, including Lawrence. He says Topeka has seen slightly slower growth, and Wichita has not grown much at all. According to Kriz, Wichita has dealt with Boeing's decision in 2012 to pull its military manufacturing division out of Kansas, and other issues centered on the aviation industry have impacted the area's economy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports officials say the agriculture industry's consolidation, low wages and sales tax increases have factored into the slow economic recovery of the state's rural counties.
Kansas Lawmakers Urged to Create Mental Health Network
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative committee is being urged to authorize creation of a network of emergency observation and treatment facilities for people having a mental health crisis as an alternative to sending them to jail or a state hospital. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Overland Park police officer Tom Keary and Leawood police officer Ken Whiteside have urged the interim committee to create the network of special hospitals or clinics for people who decline voluntary placement. Facilities would handle involuntary commitments ranging from 48 to 72 hours so that individuals can be quickly stabilized and more informed decisions about treatment can be made. Several legislators agreed that a gap exists in the state's safety net for people with mental health issues, but expressed concerns about the network's feasibility.
Wichita Schools Will Send Home Students Who Don't Have Vaccinations
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita students who aren't up to date on required immunizations will be excluded from school next week. The Wichita Eagle reports that beginning November 16, students in the Wichita school district will be pulled out of class and told they are not allowed to return to school until their immunizations are up to date. Wichita Public Schools Health Services Coordinator Kimber Kasitz says 2,000 students were not in compliance with vaccine requests as of Friday. Officials say school nurses have been notifying parents about the requirements through letters, phone calls, emails and parent-teacher conferences. Kansas schools will allow an unvaccinated child to attend class if the child's health is threatened by receiving a vaccine or if one is opposed to vaccinations because of religious beliefs.
Kansas Ranks Low in Providing Summer Meals to Children
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas advocates for the poor say they are searching for sites to provide more summer meals to children. During a regional Summer Meals Summit in Hutchinson this week, advocates said the state provides seven free summer lunches for every 100 schoolchildren who are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches at school. A federal effort called Summer Food Service Program funds the meals. The Hutchinson News reports only Oklahoma placed lower than Kansas in the number of meals it provides. The Hutchinson meeting was one of five summer meals meetings held across the state recently. Participants said transportation to meal sites is a major obstacle, particularly in rural areas. But others said providing the free meals is one of the most rewarding things a town can do for its citizens.
Group to Ask for Return of CSA Flag to Wichita Park
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A group hoping to get the Confederate flag returned to the veterans' memorial in a Wichita park will plead its case at an afternoon meeting of the city's park board. City officials took down the flag over the summer after a deadly shooting in South Carolina led to a national debate about Confederate symbols.
Boeing Deal Announced
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Boeing has landed a deal with India's Jet Airways for 75 737 Max aircraft. The deal announced today (MON) at the Dubai Airshow could be worth more than $8 billion. Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita builds the fuselages and other parts for the 737s assembled near Seattle.
Missouri Man Killed in Weekend Skydiving Accident in Kansas
OSAGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man is dead after a skydiving accident in Kansas in which his parachute became entangled with that of another skydiver over the weekend. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 54-year-old Mark Leslie Jungk of Platte City, Missouri, was a longtime jumper with SkyDive Kansas, which offers jumps from the Osage City Airport. SkyDive Kansas owner Jen Sharp says the accident happened around 4:30 pm Saturday near the airport when the victim collided with another skydiver in mid-air shortly after jumping out of a plane. She says both jumpers were experienced skydivers and were licensed. Sharp says one jumper was able to release and open his reserve parachute, landing safely, while Jungk couldn't do that because there was too much entanglement.
University of Missouri System President and MU Chancellor Resign
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe says he hopes the school community uses his resignation as a way to "move forward together." Wolfe said Monday at a special meeting of the system's governing board that he takes "full responsibility for the frustration" students had expressed regarding racial issues and that it "is clear" and "real." The chancellor of the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia has also announced that he's stepping down at the end of the year to take a different position. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin's announcement Monday came hours after Wolfe's. The deans of nine university departments wrote to Wolfe and the university system's governing board on Monday calling for Loftin's removal, citing a "deep concern about the multitude of crises on our flagship campus." Black student groups have been complaining for months about racial slurs and other slights on the system's overwhelmingly white flagship campus in Columbia. Their efforts got a boost over the weekend when 30 black football players announced they wouldn't participate in team activities until Wolfe was removed.
MO Governor Nixon: University of Missouri President's Departure Was Necessary
Governor Jay Nixon says the resignation of the University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe was a necessary step toward "healing and reconciliation" at the school. The Democratic governor issued his statement Monday after Wolfe announced that he was stepping down amid criticism of his handling of racial issues. Black student groups at the school's flagship campus in Columbia have been complaining for months over the university's handling of such matters, including racial slurs that have been directed at students. The issue came to a head over the weekend when 30 black members of Missouri's football team said they wouldn't take part in team activities until Wolfe was removed. After Wolfe's announcement, a black graduate student said he was ending his week-long hunger strike meant to force the president's ouster.
Wichita Bishop Making Case for Sainthood of Kansas Priest Emil Kapaun
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita is preparing to make the case that an Army chaplain from Kansas who died in a North Korean prisoner of war camp deserves to be granted sainthood. The Wichita Eagle reports that Bishop Carl Kemme is addressing the leadership of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome on Monday. It is the most significant moment yet in the push to have the Reverend Emil Kapaun declared a saint. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints evaluates evidence in sainthood investigations and makes recommendations to the pope. Kapaun is a U.S. Army chaplain and priest who grew up on a Marion County farm. Fellow prisoners of war said Kapaun was a source of inspiration and faith during their captivity. Kapaun is a U.S. Army chaplain and priest who grew up on a Marion County farm. Fellow prisoners of war said Kapaun was a source of inspiration and faith during their captivity.
KCK Police Investigate Apartment Complex Homicide
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas police are investigating a homicide at an apartment complex. Police said in a news release that officers were called early Sunday to the complex. Officers found a man in his early 40s dead inside from an apparent gunshot. The identity of the victim wasn't immediately released, pending notification of relatives. Anyone with information is urged to come forward.
16-Month-Old Girl Dies After Overland Park Crash
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — One person has been arrested in a suburban Kansas City crash that killed a 16-month-old girl and injured two others. Police identified the victim Sunday in a news release as Addilynn R. Poole. Police provided no details on what led up to Saturday's three-vehicle crash in Overland Park, saying the investigation is ongoing. The release said one person was arrested and was being held pending charges. An 8-year-old and 20-year-old were taken to a hospital with injuries. Both were in the same vehicle with Addilynn.
Severe Weather Possible in Arkansas, Missouri & Maybe Kansas
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma says severe weather — including tornadoes — is possible later this week in large parts of Arkansas and Missouri and in portions of several other states, including Kansas. The SPC says a strong and fast moving storm system and a powerful cold front is expected to produce moisture, heat and instability on Wednesday in both states and in southern Illinois, western Kentucky, western Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi, possibly creating super cells and some tornadoes in the region. Cities in the most-threatened area include Little Rock; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis and St. Charles, Missouri. But meteorologist John Hart with the SPC said that if the storm slows down, it could instead strike in the Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas area.
Kansas Battles Pay-Related Turnover Among Prison Staff
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Employee turnover at Kansas prisons has increased over the past five years, and the state's corrections secretary and legislators agree that officers' pay must rise if the state hopes to end a problem that's now seen as a threat to public safety. But a legislative committee's endorsement last week of higher wages for uniformed officers raises potentially contentious questions about how to pay for them. Republican Governor Sam Brownback has ruled out further tax increases since he and the GOP-dominated Legislature raised sales and cigarette taxes in July to close an earlier shortfall. Brownback's stance — and many Republican lawmakers' lack of interest in another tax debate — could force the Legislature into considering spending cuts elsewhere, perhaps even in aid to public schools, to boost pay for corrections officers.
Series of Moderate Earthquakes Continue in Northern Oklahoma
MEDFORD, Okla. (AP) — A series of moderate earthquakes continues to shake northern Oklahoma, near the Kansas border. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 3.7 magnitude quake two miles west of Cushing at 1:59 pm Sunday, following 3.5 and 3.4 magnitude quakes nine miles northwest of Medford at 10:04 pm Saturday and 2:29 am Sunday. Magnitude 2.9 and 2.5 temblors were also recorded Sunday near Medford. No injuries or damage are reported. The quakes come after 17 earthquakes were recorded in the area from Friday night through Saturday afternoon — including magnitude 4.2 and 4.1 temblors near Medford that were reported felt in Oberlin, Kansas, some 400 miles away. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has said many recent earthquakes in the state likely were triggered by the injection of wastewater from oil and natural gas drilling operations.