Elle Moxley | KBIA

Elle Moxley

.05pt">Elle joined KCUR in 2014 as a general assignment reporter. She covered the 2016 election in Kansas as part of a political reporting partnership with NPR. Today, she covers Missouri schools and politics.

.05pt">Before coming to KCUR, Elle covered Indiana education policy for NPR’s StateImpact project. Her work covering Indiana’s exit from the Common Core was nationally recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award.

.05pt">Elle has also reported for The Examiner in Independence, Missouri, and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri. She is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.


For students who speak a language other than English at home, it can take years to learn English well enough to pass tests at school.

For refugee students – many of whom never went to school – it can take even longer.

As Missouri school districts await state test scores they should have received months ago, some administrators said they're getting frustrated with the delay.

“I don’t have the data right now for math and reading to even make a determination as to whether the things we invested in last year are making a difference,” Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell said.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City will no longer sponsor charter schools after the 2018-19 school year.

The decision affects eight charter schools that together serve more than 5,000 students. Two of the schools, the Academy for Integrated Arts and University Academy, were quick to announce they were in talks with the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, an independent sponsor that gets its funding from the state.

Lee’s Summit Superintendent Dennis Carpenter is urging residents of the district to “believe the data” that shows significant achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers.

Originally the district wanted to bring in a diversity consultant to speak to the school board at their Oct. 3 meeting, but the proposed training roiled Lee’s Summit parents participating in an online discussion group. Last week they asked the school board to back up the superintendent’s assertion that white students were outperforming students of color with data.

Parents whose kids attend Lee’s Summit schools are growing increasingly frustrated with the school board and superintendent as tensions escalate over issues of equity and race.

It was standing room only Tuesday night as parents demanded the Board of Education justify the need for professional development from a particular diversity consultant.

Kansas public schools will see $27 million from the U.S. Department of Education to improve literacy for all kids — including those not yet old enough for school.

It’s likely layoffs will be necessary to pay for what University of Missouri System President Mun Choi outlined as priorities in a speech last week.

That’s according to Board of Curators Chairman David Steelman.

“Some people are going to lose their jobs. There are going to be program cuts, but we’re going to get the money now for the investments this state needs,” Steelman said Wednesday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Is it preferable to build new schools or renovate old ones?

Should the priority be to minimize the fiscal impact or minimize student disruption as more families move into the district?

Is it important to consider equity of learning environments when making facilities decisions?

These are questions the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District will ask students, parents, teachers and taxpayers at a series of community engagement events this fall.

An Olathe Republican vying for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives was arrested Thursday and charged with election perjury.

The complaint filed by the Johnson County district attorney’s office alleges Adam T. Thomas, 35, falsified an affidavit to election officials on or about May 31, 2018.

There aren’t enough licensed child care centers in Wyandotte County to serve all working families with young children, according to a community health assessment.

That’s why the Family Conservancy and other community groups are launching the Start Young initiative to improve access to high-quality child care for kids younger than 6.

New routines as school starts can overwhelm kindergarteners, especially if they didn’t go to preschool.

That’s why many Kansas City area school districts try to ease the transition for young students with summer programs.

Cafeteria workers at Center Middle School are getting ready to cook up protein-rich breakfasts when kids come back on Wednesday.

“So this here is our egg muffin,” says Marjorie Rice, the kitchen lead at Center Middle School. “What this consists of is peppers and cheese and egg, and it’s a full serving of protein. We cook that, and it puffs up like a muffin, and then we wrap it and it goes into the bag with either salsa or hot sauce.”

Turns out, the hot sauce is pretty key to getting kids to eat the breakfasts.

Mayor Sly James is ready to fight for a 3/8-cent sales tax to improve access to quality preschool in Kansas City.

“Only 35 percent of the kids in this city are engaged in quality pre-K. We have 40 percent of zip codes in deserts where there is no quality pre-K,” James said Monday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Students in the EMT class at Manual Career and Technical Center were honest when Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell asked if they were excited or scared to be back at school.

Scared, said Jayla, a senior. “I just don’t want to fail,” she told Bedell, “and I don’t want to disappoint anybody. Because I refuse to fail.”

Bedell, who made stops at several KCPS schools Monday morning, nodded sympathetically.

It was back to school Friday for some Johnson County students.

For many years now, the Shawnee Mission School District has had a transition day for students moving into a new school building. According to Shawnee Mission West Principal Steve Loe, having just ninth graders on the first day lets new high school students meet their teachers and get acquainted with the building before they have to share the halls with upperclassmen.

Long lines, loud music ... and backpacks?

All month long, community organizations have been passing out school supplies to kids at events that feel less like back-to-school fairs and more like outdoor concerts.

By working with neighboring school districts and community health partners, Olathe Superintendent John Allison thinks Johnson County might actually be able to change the conversation on teen suicide.

“Each of the Johnson County school districts has taken a little different approach,” Allison says. “I think that’s been key to our conversation that started last spring, is to learn from each other to try to see what’s worked and at the same time to blend our limited resources to best support each other.”

The wait for immunizations at the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department most afternoons this summer has been two, sometimes three hours – and it’s likely to get worse as the first day of school nears.

“Morning times are probably the easiest to get in,” says Bill Snook, a spokesman for the health department. “Later times, you should expect a long wait.”

Black students in Missouri continue to be suspended at a disproportionate rate compared to their white peers, according to an analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU updated a report it published last fall that found black children with disabilities received more than 40 percent of out-of-school suspensions despite making up only 16 percent of the student population receiving special education services.

Chappell Electric is the very definition of a small business: call, and owner Germaine Chappell picks up on the second ring.

“Our motto is to exceed above expectations,” Chappell says. “Every job we go on, we give 100 percent and go up and beyond what the general contractor or the client is asking for.”

There's good news for a Kansas City elementary school that wasn’t sure how it would continue a successful tutoring program that helps transient students catch up in English and math: a $75,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation will keep it alive.

The Shawnee Mission School District is still searching for someone to lead its beleaguered special education department.

The district came under fire last year after the Kansas Department of Education found some students with special needs weren’t getting all federally required services. Students who are gifted also qualify for special education in Kansas.

SMSD Superintendent Michael Fulton sent an email to parents earlier this week announcing Assistant Superintendent Christy Ziegler would be taking over the special education department on an interim basis.

Ahead of a state-mandated redistricting of school board seats, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education has put forth its own map suggesting how the boundaries should be drawn.

The proposed map builds on the work of three consultants hired by the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners and incorporates community feedback, KCPS Board of Education Chair Melissa Robinson wrote in a letter to commissioners.

There were 307 students enrolled at Pitcher Elementary on the last day of school, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story.

Pitcher is about as far east as a school can be and still be in the Kansas City Public Schools – out by the stadiums, mere blocks from the Independence and Raytown districts. Kids come and go constantly as their families’ circumstances change.

Missouri families can now use an existing college savings program to get a tax break on private school tuition and other K-12 education expenses, Treasurer Eric Schmitt announced this week.

An amendment added at the last minute to the massive tax overhaul Congress passed in December allows participants in state 529 college savings programs to spend up to $10,000 annually to cover tuition expenses at public, private and religious schools.

Missouri teachers have made incremental salary gains since last school year, but educator pay continues to trail the national average.

The average Missouri teacher is making $49,760 for the 2017-18 school year, according to a Missouri State Teacher Association report on educator pay. That’s about $700 more than last year but still well below the national average for a classroom teacher, which is $58,950.

The Missouri State Board of Education on Tuesday advanced what’s been characterized as a “skinny” plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Better known as ESSA, the Obama-era reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act as the law governing school accountability. Among other things, ESSA outlines how federal Title I dollars should be distributed to schools with large populations of students living in poverty.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is confident the state's new voter ID law won’t disenfranchise anyone.

“I’ve spent over 70,000 miles traveling the state over the last two years, and I’ve challenged anyone to point to someone that can’t vote under this law that would’ve been able to vote under the prior law,” says Ashcroft, who was in Blue Springs Tuesday morning to explain how the law has changed. “No one’s been able to find someone.”

The family of a Kansas boy who died last summer while riding a slide at Schlitterbahn has reached a settlement with the water park.

Caleb Schwab, 10, was killed Aug. 7, 2016, while riding Verrückt, an attraction Schlitterbahn billed as the world’s tallest water slide.

It was Elected Official Day at the water park – Schwab’s father is Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was in Kansas City Tuesday to announce her support for legislation that would increase penalties for government officials who steal public money.

Sen. Bob Dixon, a Springfield Republican, has pre-filed legislation that would make official misconduct in the first degree a felony carrying a possible four-year sentence. Currently, it's a misdemeanor. 

It would also give local prosecutors more time to recover damages in cases of fraud or corruption.

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