UofL president signals new focus on athletics department oversight Wednesday, Apr 26 2017 

University of Louisville interim president Greg Postel told trustees on Wednesday that he will apply increased attention and oversight to the UofL Athletic Association in the coming months, though he maintained he was not aware of any dire “fix” needed within that athletics department, as trustee and Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter declared two weeks ago. […]

Advocates: Kentucky Schools Would Feel The Pinch If GOP Revives Health Plan Wednesday, Apr 26 2017 

Public schools would be in a financial pinch if Congressional Republicans are successful in changing the way Medicaid is funded.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Act requires public schools pay for health care services for students with disabilities — including services like school nurses, speech and mental health therapists. Kentucky schools received $34 million in 2015 toward those costs. Over half of the funds came from Medicaid — the rest came from the state.

That money could be in jeopardy if the American Health Care Act – also referred to as Trumpcare – is revived. The GOP plan proposes cutting $839 billion in Medicaid spending to states over 10 years.

Other changes include funding Medicaid through block grants, which would give states a chunk of money each year to pay for the program. Critics say block grants wouldn’t take into account unexpected public health crises — like a hepatitis C breakout, for example — and it would be up to states to fill in gaps or not.

Brad Hughes with the Kentucky School Boards Association said if federal funding goes away, schools would still be required to pay for health care services for students. He said that could be done by raising taxes or tapping into school general funds that provide other services.

“It could be a devastating unfunded mandate on public schools,” Hughes said. “Then they have to figure out how to pay for it.”

Public schools receive money from the federal government to help pay for health care for children with disabilities but the money also benefits children without disabilities. That’s because if a school nurse is hired, all students at that school likely have access to that nurse.

Having school nurses and other health care professionals in schools also saves money. That’s because when children seek health care at school, parents don’t have to pay co-pays for a doctor’s visit. For parents of children in Massachusetts schools in 2009, those medical costs were valued at $20 million. That’s according to a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Terry Brooks with Kentucky Youth Advocates said the potential cuts would come to a state that already doesn’t allocate many resources to children’s health care in schools, even though there is a link between education success and health.

“In Kentucky, a real focus on school-based health is very rare,” Brooks said. “It usually boils down to a superintendent who’s thoughtful about the intersection of health and education, and they go to work on making it happen. If we know it’s an idea that’s delivering good services for kids and it’s a win-win, to threaten that is bad economics and bad for kids.”

The cuts could also come as Gov. Matt Bevin makes changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program. Bevin has proposed monthly payments for all Medicaid recipients, no matter their income, excluding pregnant women and people with disabilities.

That’s concerning to Brooks. He said when parents are insured, they are more likely to also have their children insured. Over 400,000 people gained access to Medicaid through the state’s expansion in 2014.

Kentucky could make up the difference for schools and help them pay for health care for students but Brooks said advocates won’t know what Bevin’s budget priorities are until he unveils his next budget in 2018.

UofL Foundation approves first line-item budget as part of ongoing reform effort Tuesday, Apr 25 2017 

In another sign of changing times at the University of Louisville Foundation, its board on Tuesday approved a line-item operating budget for the next fiscal year — an act that is typical for large organizations, but a first for the rapidly changing nonprofit managing the university’s roughly $784 million endowment. Before the foundation’s chief financial officer […]

First Steller’s Sea-Eagle Hatchlings in LouisvilleKY in 48 years Monday, Apr 24 2017 

Photos taken from The Louisville Zoo’s nest cam…

Louisville, Ky., – The Louisville Zoo is thrilled to announce the first Steller’s sea-eagle hatchlings in the Zoo’s 48-year history. The Zoo’s collection has included Steller’s sea-eagles for nearly 20 years, although the new sea-eagle exhibit opened in 2013 and features a 50-foot-tall aviary where you can see red-breasted geese, azure-winged magpie and mandarin ducks. The eaglets can be seen daily on a nest cam at the exhibit in Glacier Run.

 

“These two hatchings are significant to the Species Survival Plan as a whole bringing the total of Steller’s sea-eagle managed population to 19,” said Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak. “The Louisville Zoo is only the third accredited Zoo to successfully breed Steller’s sea-eagles. With only 5000 of these stunning eagles in the remnant wild and a declining population that is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species as Vulnerable to extinction, these hatchlings will help raise awareness of this magnificent species. ”

eaglets 1

The first eaglet hatched on April 4 and the second on April 7 to adult pair 21-year-old Pyotr and 20-year-old Anna.

 

Bird Curator Gary Michael said guests can expect to see Pyotr aiding Anna and the hatchlings by assisting with feeding and occasionally brooding the eaglets. Guests might also catch a glimpse of the eaglets battling for dominance at mealtime even though food is abundant and the eaglets are fed once an hour.

 

“Our community can celebrate with us in watching a rare and memorable event.  The species is seldom bred in a managed system and a reliable strategy to do so is needed to assure the declining species is conserved,” added Michael. “At the current rate of deforestation in Russia’s tall-growth forests, the sea-eagle’s status is likely to be uplisted to Endangered in the years to come.”

 

ABOUT STELLER’S SEA EAGLES

Steller’s sea-eagle wingspan can be 7.5 to 8 feet. They breed in eastern Russia, around the Sea of Okhotsk and on the Kamchatka Peninsula. A small number of birds remain in Kamchatka over the winter but the majority fly south to the Japanese Islands of Kuril and Hokkaido. This species is occasionally seen in China and in North and South Korea. Though usually solitary in the southern part of its range, it is more likely to congregate in numbers on salmon rivers. The sea-eagle is listed as Vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.

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The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The post First Steller’s Sea-Eagle Hatchlings in LouisvilleKY in 48 years appeared first on Louisville KY.

U of L Meets NCAA; Postel Says Decision In 6-8 Weeks Thursday, Apr 20 2017 

Officials from the University of Louisville on Thursday appeared before the NCAA Committee on Infractions to respond to allegations related to a sex scandal involving the men’s basketball program.

The NCAA launched an investigation in late 2015 following the publication of a book claiming that former basketball staffer Andre McGee paid an escort service for strippers and sex parties for Cardinal players and recruits over a four-year period.

The NCAA hearing is the latest step in the process. The program has acknowledged that there were some violations, but disputes an NCAA charge that coach Rick Pitino failed to adequately monitor his staff and players.

In a statement Thursday night, acting U of L president Greg Postel said the school got a “full and fair” review of the facts and expects the NCAA committee to issue its report in six to eight weeks.

“We anticipated and received a full and fair review of the facts in the case today by the Committee on Infractions. We had the opportunity to present the information as we wished.  It is anticipated that the Committee on Infractions will inform the institution on the specific findings and penalties in approximately six to eight weeks. We look forward to the final resolution of this matter.”

The university can still appeal any NCAA findings and punishment.

Liberian Students Aim For Victory At Robotics Competition In Louisville Thursday, Apr 20 2017 

The 2017 VEX Robotics Worlds Championship is happening this week at the Kentucky Exposition Center. About 1,400 students from around the world will compete.

I went to a rented house in the Beechmont neighborhood in South Louisville earlier this week, where a small team from Liberia was preparing for the competition. Listen to their story in the player above.

Babygirl Jacobs is in the United States for the first time And she’s not into the food here.

“So when I came and they brought the pizza, I lost my appetite because I don’t like it at all,” Jacobs said.

The 12-year-old prefers food from where she’s from in Liberia — food like cassava, bread plantains, and baked fish. But her first trip to the U.S. isn’t about cuisine. She’s here to win at the VEX Robotics competition.

“Yes, I’m gonna win the competition because there are many strategies that we put together from Liberia and we have come to prove ourselves,” she said.

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org

Liberian students practice in Louisville for this week’s robotics competition.

Jacobs and four other students are a part of Wayjah-STEM, a pilot program in Liberia that teaches science, technology, engineering and math education. Since learning about robots, the students have been able to do practical things in their homes. They fix things for their families, like radios or power generators.

Getting the students to compete in a worldwide robotics competition was no small feat. One of the biggest obstacles to teaching these kids 21st century tech skills was Liberia’s past.

The country was engrossed in a 14-year civil war that ended in the early 2000s. That left Liberia’s infrastructure — including its education system — in shambles. According to UNICEF, 80 percent of schools in the country were damaged.

The Wahjay-STEM program started in 2016, and has served 25 students so far. That’s a small dent. But it’s also a step toward training the country’s future engineers — who could maybe rebuild Liberia’s roads and bridges one day.

But first, there’s this week’s competition.

Amazon Surprises West End School Students With Updated Library Wednesday, Apr 19 2017 

Sunender Mann, general manager of Amazon Fulfillment in Jeffersonville, Indiana, stands in front of a group of students who are sitting cross-legged on swaths of stubby seafoam green carpet. They are all wearing bright purple “West End School” t-shirts, which are decorated with their school mascot, a soaring eagle.

“Kids, are you excited today,” Mann asks, holding out a microphone which amplifies an explosion of applause from students, parents and teachers.

Ashlie Stevens | wfpl.org

West End School students

He then makes the announcement that the Amazon Fulfillment Center would be donating over 1,000 books, 16 tablets and new furnishings to the West End School’s library.

Deidre Baliban is the head librarian at the school. She says the library has needed an upgrade for a long time.

“A week ago we had nothing that matched, no furniture that was new,” She says. “Now we can actually have the kids sit at a table, do a lesson there and they don’t have to be on the floor where we had no rugs.”

Baliban says Amazon also provided software that will enable the librarians to check out books electronically, and a searchable database for students that allows them to see all of the available books with the click of a mouse.

Ashlie Stevens | wfpl.org

Some of the new library furniture, tablets and books provided by Amazon Fulfillment.

Mayor Greg Fischer also attended the remodel unveiling, and addressed the students.

“West End School stands for so many things, but one of the things that you guys stand for is compassion,” Fischer says. “This is our ‘Give-A-Day Week of Service,’ and look at these guys from Amazon over here.”

Fischer: “They want to help people and you know what they are asking for? Nothing. They just want you guys to pay it forward.”

UK receives $11 million grant to study obesity’s link to cancer Tuesday, Apr 18 2017 

By Linda Blackford | Lexington Herald-Leader The University of Kentucky has received $11.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to finance a new center that studies the links between obesity and cancer. The grant will finance the UK Center for Cancer and Metabolism over the next five years. The center will focus on the […]

What’s ‘Papa’ cooking? On his cryptic UofL athletics comments, no one seems to know Friday, Apr 14 2017 

Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter made headlines Wednesday by leveling harsh criticism at the University of Louisville Athletic Association’s leadership, telling fellow members of the university’s board of trustees that “until you fix athletics, you cannot fix this university.” And what exactly “scares” Schnatter about UofL’s athletics department and its leadership? Two days later, he’s […]

With Hargens On The Way Out, Where Does JCPS Go From Here? Friday, Apr 14 2017 

The head of the Jefferson County Public School district will relinquish her position this summer, some two years before her original contract was set to expire.

Her impending resignation was announced during a special meeting of the district’s Board of Education Thursday night. Donna Hargens, the superintendent, has led the state’s largest school district since 2011.

Hargens’ exit will come at a tumultuous time for public education in Louisville. State education officials are in the midst of an large scale audit of district management, charter schools will soon be permitted to operate in the city and changes are in store for statewide regulatory measures like the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Some local education experts and advocates for public education in Louisville say the school board must now work diligently to find a replacement that will make students and learning the top priority.

Mary Gwen Wheeler, the executive director of the 55,000 Degrees program and a member of the Kentucky Board of Education, said it’s critical parents and residents maintain high expectations for the school district and that board members meet those expectations.

“That means dedicating resources to match the needs of students and families,” Wheeler said.

And the community, she said, must call the school board to task in the effort to keep the district progressing amid the state audit and the other pending changes to local education.

“Anytime you have a switch in leadership it shakes confidence in the board,” she said. “It’s imperative the community stays vigilant.”

Wheeler touted the strategy implemented by Hargens and said board members should select a superintendent who “relentlessly” pursues benchmarks associated with third grade reading levels and eighth grade math levels, college and career readiness and graduation rates.

“We need somebody that’s very clear on how they’re going to be accomplishing that; that has to be first and foremost,” she said.

‘We need new leadership’

Gay Adelmann, a co-founder of Dear JCPS, a group that seeks more accountability and transparency from the local school district, said the first step the board must take is finding an interim replacement for Hargens once she steps down in July.

That person, she said, needs to be aware of the issues within the district — such as struggles to shrink the achievement gap — and quell longheld racial disparities related to student success and discipline.

“I really feel it could take a year or two before we get our district back in a condition that warrants us doing a national search for a long-term superintendent,” she said.

Adelmann said she’ll push the school board to gather public input and feedback on attributes necessary for Hargens’ interim and permanent replacement.

“And build the community support that our public schools have so badly needed,” she said.

Adelmann said she wasn’t surprised by the decision to oust Hargens early. In fact, she said she’s happy to see the newly elected board members uphold their campaign promises.

Board members Chris Kolb and Benjamin Gies both campaigned on the pledge to seek new district leadership. Adelmann credits Hargens’ leadership for turning the district into a target for state lawmakers seeking to change local, public education.

Gov. Matt Bevin took aim at the district earlier this year during the legislative session, calling the school district an “unmitigated disaster,” and other lawmakers pushed legislation that sought to fundamentally change the district’s student assignment plan.

“I think we have a local school board that is capable and competent and ready to take on the challenges that face us,” Adelmann said. “We need new leadership.”

Karen Williams is the co-president of the local advocacy group Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together — or CLOUT. The group is a faith-based organization that pushes social justice reform within the district and has long voiced concern during school board meetings about discipline policies they say contribute to the racial disparities that plague large, urban school districts.

Williams declined to offer her thoughts on Hargens’ tenure, but said the school board’s decision sends a message.

“The school board is constantly shooting for excellence in our schools, that’s all I see,” she said.

Williams said she’s looking ahead and hopeful the next superintendent will continue Hargens’ effort to adopt discipline practices that limit suspensions and keep students in the classroom.

Chris Brady, chair of the Jefferson County Board of Education, declined a request to comment on the decision to amend Hargens’ contract for an earlier exit.

In a statement he read aloud during the meeting Thursday, he said the school board is committed to its vision that all students “graduate prepared, empowered and inspired.”

“The board now intends to move forward with a sense of urgency to find a successor.”

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