Elle Moxley | KCUR

Elle Moxley

Education Reporter

Elle covers education for KCUR. The best part of her job is talking to students. Before coming to KCUR in 2014, 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. Her work at KCUR has been recognized by the Missouri Broadcasters Association and the Kansas City Press Club. She is a graduate of the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism. Elle regularly tweets photos of her dog, Kingsley. There is a wounded Dr. Ian Malcolm bobblehead on her desk.

Ways to Connect

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell has signed another three-year contract.

Approving the contract was the last act of the outgoing, nine-member school board, which met in closed executive session before Wednesday’s board meeting when the new, seven-member board was sworn in.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Kansas City voters have rejected Mayor Sly James’ plan to pay for universal pre-K for 4-year-olds with a three-eighth-cent sales tax.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Lee’s Summit voters will pick two new school board members Tuesday in an election that could be a referendum of the district’s equity and inclusion work.

The seven-member school board unanimously approved an equity plan in February, and last month they offered Superintendent Dennis Carpenter a one-year contract extension.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Paying for pre-K is a huge burden for families with young children, even for parents with good jobs.

Tiffany Price has one of those. She works with teen moms in the Hickman Mills School District, and she’s a mom herself. She has four boys, and the two youngest aren’t in school yet.

So every week she writes a check for $270 to Ronnie’s Childcare.

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, the only charter school sponsored by the Kansas City Public Schools, will close at the end of the school year, leaving 140 students and their families to find seats at other schools.

Parent Elizabeth Behrens said there were no warning signs that the school was in trouble until this week, when a letter went home saying that the board would vote Wednesday on the future of the school.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 2:53 p.m. Thursday: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency Thursday, following flooding along the Missouri River.

Thursday morning the river breached a levee near Winthrop, Missouri, across from Atchison, Kansas. 

Ray Weikal / Kansas City Public Schools

The Kansas City Public Schools have made some big gains under the leadership of Superintendent Mark Bedell.

Now it’ll be up to the school board voters elect next month to sustain that progress.

Show Me KC Schools

Families of prospective charter school students who used a common application have received their offers and will have until March 22 to pick their top choice on School App KC.

Sixteen of Kansas City’s 22 charter schools agreed to use a common application for the first time this year. Families submitted 4,300 applications for 2,500 students, said Leslie Kohlmeyer, the director of programs for Show Me KC Schools.

Kohlmeyer said families who applied to more than one charter in previous years would have to keep calling different schools to find out their status.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Students in Kansas City Public Schools will ride to school next year on new propane-fueled buses, part of a three-year, $60.6 million transportation contract with Student Transportation of America.

“We’re very excited about that,” said Linda Quinley, chief financial officer for the district, after the school board voted to approve the contract Wednesday night.

Courtesy Blue Valley School District

Blue Valley will promote deputy superintendent Tonya Merrigan into its top job.

But Merrigan won’t move into her new position right away. She’ll spend the next 17 months learning from outgoing superintendent Todd White.

“I’ll get to really understand the legislative process,” Merrigan said. “I get to spend time analyzing and working on the budget – areas I haven’t had as much opportunity to work with.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s tangled school boundaries will make the mayor’s pre-K plan difficult to administer, opponents argued Monday at a news conference in the Northland.

“North Kansas City as a whole has 14 different municipalities, causing huge concern for our board of education and our community that only one of our 14 municipalities would be eligible for resources within the mayor’s plan,” said North Kansas City Superintendent Dan Clemens.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The push to enroll more students in classes that will prepare them for college and careers could create new opportunities for young people with special needs.

Jackson Barber has an intellectual disability. He started working at Antioch Urban Growers while enrolled in the work experience program through North Kansas City Schools.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Career and technical education is having a moment, but not in all schools. Most charters still focus almost exclusively on college preparedness.

“University Academy seeks to prepare students for higher education and to be leaders in society,” said superintendent Tony Kline. “The vision is to be the best college prep school in the country.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Back when she was in eighth grade at California Trail in the Olathe Public Schools, Lilly Beckwith loved making amateur videos with Windows Movie Maker and posting them to her YouTube channel.

So Beckwith was excited when it came time to enroll for high school and she learned she could hone her filmmaking skills in the e-Communication program, she was excited. But there was a catch. Beckwith, who was supposed to go to Olathe East, would have to transfer to Olathe Northwest.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

There were some groans back in August when Laura Lavallee told sixth graders at Tomahawk Elementary they’d be talking about their career prospects this year.

“Some of them were a little reluctant,” said Lavallee, the STEM teacher at the Shawnee Mission school. “‘This is silly! I’m in sixth grade! My career is so far away! Why do I need to think about it now?’”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Seventeen-year-old Jasmine Bailey is learning how to install electrical boxes and frame windows, but what she really wants to do is study sharks as a marine biologist.

“I know, it sounds crazy, and it’s the total opposite way, but I’ve always wanted to become that,” said Bailey, a junior at Oak Park High School, “and sometimes you have to build your own equipment, your own shark tanks, your own tracking equipment. If you know how to wire it, it takes the middleman out of it.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The long wait for accreditation may soon be over for Kansas City Public Schools.

KCPS scored solidly in the range for full accreditation for the second time in three years. The district received 99.5 points out of 120 possible – 82.9 percent – on its 2018 Annual Performance Report. APR is basically a report card for public schools in Missouri.

Center School District

Center and Hickman Mills school districts in south Kansas City are launching a new initiative to help stabilize homeless students and their families.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A chilly wind carried off the balloons students at Ingels Elementary released Monday in honor of a classmate who was shot and killed last year.

It’s been a year since a stray bullet struck and killed 9-year-old Dominic Young Jr., a third-grader at Ingels. Dominic’s father told police his son was riding in the backseat of a pickup when the family drove through a rolling gun battle near U.S. 71 and Emanual Cleaver II Boulevard. The case remains unsolved.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Crestview Elementary third grader Hana Ismail is reading two books she picked out from her classroom library that feature Pakistani protagonists.

“Four Feet, Two Sandals,” by Karen Lynn Williams and illustrated by Khadra Mohammed, tells the story of two girls who meet in a refugee camp. “Malala’s Magic Pencil,” by Malala Yousafzai, is about the young Nobel laureate, with illustrations by Kerascoët.

“I get to pick out all my favorite books,” Hana said. “They’re really fun to read for me, and they give me more information about everything.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Most children are taught that Martin Luther King Jr. created change through peaceful protest, but that narrative oversimplifies the civil rights leader’s legacy.

In schools that make racial equity a priority, educators are starting to change how they teach about King.

Courtesy Ray Weikal / KCPS

Missouri lawmakers are starting pay attention to turnaround efforts in the Kansas City Public Schools – and one member of the school board says that’s given the district a seat at the table.

John Fierro has been the chairman of the government relations committee since he was elected to the school board three years ago.

“Our reputation in Jefferson City has improved significantly,” Fierro says. “(Before) you would hear the stories about, ‘Oh, they can’t get along, the board is disruptive, they can’t keep a superintendent.’”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Volunteers read the names of 2018 homicide victims Saturday night at the AdHoc Group Against Crime’s vigil.

Across the metro, there have been 208 homicides this year, according to AdHoc's accounting. In Kansas City, Missouri, there were 133 homicides as of Friday, Dec. 28, the last time the Kansas City Police Department updated its crime statistics website. Less than half have been cleared.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Lee’s Summit R-7 school board is considering a plan that moves about 800 of the district’s 18,000 students to different schools next year.

Conversations about school boundary changes are always fraught. When schools are overcrowded and someone has to move, no one wants it to be their kid.

So tensions were already high when race and equity became part of the discussion.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A software glitch in the Kansas City Public Schools online application made it hard for some families to enroll Tuesday.

Because the district fills seats at its signature schools in the order applications are received, some parents were online at 6 a.m. when the application opened to ensure their child would get into a preferred school next year. Juanita, whose last name KCUR is not using because she is undocumented, was one of those parents.

Show Me KC Schools

Starting Monday, families living within Kansas City Public Schools boundaries can apply to 16 charter schools with a common application.

“Parents don’t have to go to four different schools and fill out four separate applications,” Latresse Yarbough, the chief operating officer for Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, said. “We really want to show the unity between charter schools and the ease of the application.”

UMKC Marketing & Communications / Flickr--CC

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as the other three campuses in the UM System, will extend buyout offers to tenured faculty nearing retirement age, it was announced Friday.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can to alleviate any financial pressure,” MU spokesman Christian Basi said, though he was “not ready to speculate” on whether more layoffs would be coming if too few employees took buyouts.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Some of the parent teachers associations in the Shawnee Mission School District are fundraising machines, but not Rosehill Elementary.

“We don’t necessarily have the connections at our school to bring in extra fun rides or extra huge auction items,” said Megan Peters, one of the PTA parents at Rosehill.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3 file photo

UPDATED at 3:20 p.m. Nov. 20 with details from a lawsuit filed against UMKC and Ashim Mitra — University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal suspended a prominent pharmacy professor Tuesday after a Kansas City Star report detailed students' allegations that Dr. Ashim Mitra exploited them for free labor.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Once a week, Waynesville High School in south-central Missouri resounds with the celebratory air of a football game. The marching band has just completed a lap of the hallways, blaring the school’s theme song, “Eye of the Tiger.”

This school rocks with spirit, even though most of its 1,500 students didn’t grow up in Waynesville, and most of them won’t be staying long.

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