LouisvilleKY’s zoo throws another party for the planet Wednesday, Mar 22 2017 

Party for the Planet: A Month-Long Celebration of the Earth

LG&E and KU sponsor events throughout April;

$8.25 admission to the Zoo’s Earth Day celebration on April 30


The Louisville Zoo is throwing its annual bash for the Earth — Party for the Planet: a Month-Long Celebration of the Earth, powered by Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company. The month of April includes special activities: zoo keeper presentations, a regional art contest for students, $8.25 admission on April 30 and conservation-minded events every weekend.


“This is truly an incredible event for those in our community and visitors from all locations who come to enjoy it,” said LG&E and KU Director of Corporate Responsibility and Community Affairs Angie Evans. “Not only does it offer fun for the whole family, but it puts focus of that fun around our magnificent planet and its wildlife and opens up a dialogue about how we can all play our part in protecting them.”

Earth day

Earth Day Festival

During the April 30 Earth Day Festival, guests can enjoy $8.25 admission and free parking at the Zoo courtesy of LG&E and KU.


Returning for its fifth year is Trashformation: a Trash-to-Treasure Recyclable Art Contest for students ranging from preschool through grade 12. This contest is open to individual students, groups or classes. New this year, the Zoo is partnering with the Louisville Orchestra’s MakingMUSIC Landfill Orchestra program sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and has added a new category encouraging students to create a playable musical instrument from recycled materials. Winners of the contest divisions will be announced and displayed at the Earth Month Kick-Off on April 1. Students submitting a musical instrument will be invited to participate in a jam session with their instruments led by Louisville Orchestra music director Teddy Abrams at the awards presentation press conference April 1 at 10:30 a.m.


Visit louisvillezoo.org/earth for full details about the entire month.


April Party for the Planet Activities


Saturdays, April 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 7:30- 11:30 a.m.

ZooPoopyDoo Compost and Mulch Sale

Get your garden ready for spring with our unique, high-quality ZooPoopyDoo compost and hardwood bark mulch. Compost is $40 per scoop. Mulch is $19.50 per scoop. Each scoop is 17.8 cubic feet. These products are now available for pre-purchase online at louisvillezoo.org/zoopoopydoo.


Saturday, April 1, 10:30 a.m.

Earth Month Kick-Off press conference and Trashformation Awards Ceremony

Mayor Fischer will announce winners for the Trashformation art contest and Louisville Orchestra music director Teddy Abrams will lead students who submitted entries in the musical instrument category in a jam session. Appearances by Louie the Lightning Bug from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Sunday, April 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ZooCycle featuring Eco-Cell

Help wild gorillas and clean your clutter for spring! Bring an old cell phone to recycle and receive a voucher for $2 off your next visit to the Zoo or $2 off a ride if you are a Zoo member.


Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

National Zoo Lovers Day featuring Clifford the Big Red Dog and NHC Health Fair

Visit the Louisville Zoo and show your support for Zoos and the great things they do every day of every year. Meet and Greet Clifford the Big Red Dog from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Norton Healthcare will provide screenings on the Zoo plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Sunday, April 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

ZooCycle featuring the Louisville Water Company and WaterStep shoe drive

Learn about water quality and the technology behind using the earth as a source for creating safe drinking water. Guests donating a pair of shoes to WaterStep will receive a voucher for $2 off your next visit to the Zoo or $2 off a ride if you are a Zoo member. WaterStep collects on average 30,000 pounds of shoes each month, so that’s 30,000 pounds of waste that is kept from going into landfills.


Monday, April 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fun Day Mondays

Guests can enjoy $5.25 general admission courtesy of LG&E and KU. There will be special zoo keeper talks and LG&E and KU’s Mini City display plus appearances by Louie the Lightning Bug from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Saturday, April 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Meet and greet the Easter Bunny, enjoy some EGGcellent games and watch as our Zoo animals take part in some EGGstraordinary fun. Be sure to bring your basket and join us for egg hunts for children 11 and under.


Sunday, April 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ZooCycle featuring Eco-Cell

Help wild gorillas and clean your clutter for spring! Bring an old cell phone to recycle and receive a voucher for $2 off your next visit to the Zoo or $2 off a ride if you are a Zoo member.


Monday, April 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fun Day Mondays

Guests can enjoy $5.25 general admission courtesy of LG&E and KU. There will be special zoo keeper talks and LG&E and KU’s Mini City display plus appearances by Louie the Lightning Bug from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Backyard Action Hero Day

Learn how to become a Backyard Action Hero (BAH) —a kid or adult who is passionate about wildlife and habitats and is ready to take action to protect them. Pick up the Louisville Zoo’s most recent copy of the Backyard Action Hero Guidebook presented by Toyota to learn about city ecosystems and what you can do to keep your local ecosystem balanced and healthy for the good of plants, animals and people. The day features stations with docents and biofacts where you can get an up-close look at the plants and wildlife native to our home. Learn what you can do at home to help protect our wildlife and what actions the Zoo is taking to become more sustainable.


Monday, April 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fun Day Mondays

Guests can enjoy $5.25 general admission courtesy of LG&E and KU. There will be special zoo keeper talks and LG&E and KU’s Mini City display plus appearances by Louie the Lightning Bug from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Saturday, April 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Save the Frog Day featuring Froggy

Leap on over to the Zoo to learn more about amphibians and simple things you can do at home to help save frogs. Special guest Froggy from the Froggy book series will hop by for a meet and greet.


Sunday, April 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (enjoy the Zoo until 6 p.m.)

$8.25 admission all day, free parking

Eco-Partner displays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Celebrate Earth Day with special keeper talks, more than 20 community eco-partner displays (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and $8.25 Zoo admission and free parking all day courtesy of Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company. Visit LG&E and KU’s Mini City display and see Louie the Lightning Bug mascot. Come join the fun and learn what you can do to help save our planet! Avoid the line and purchase discount tickets online at louisvillezoo.org




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).




Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company, part of the PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) family of companies, are regulated utilities that serve nearly 1.3 million customers and have consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. LG&E serves 322,000 natural gas and 403,000 electric customers in Louisville and 16 surrounding counties. KU serves 546,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia. More information is available at www.lge-ku.com and www.pplweb.com.


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Governor Signs Kentucky Charter Schools Bill Into Law Wednesday, Mar 22 2017 

Gov. Matt Bevin has signed the charter schools bill into law, allowing the alternative institutions to open up this fall after an application process.

Kentucky is the 44th state in the country to allow charter schools, which will receive public funding and be exempt from most state regulations in an effort to provide innovative education.

Bevin tweeted to mark the occasion:

The legislation was a major priority for Republicans in Kentucky, who had control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s office for the first time in state history this year.

Charter schools bills had passed out of the Republican-led state Senate many times over the last decade, but they were thwarted in the House, which was controlled by Democrats until November’s sweeping election.

Lawmakers spent much of the legislative session this year negotiating the policy behind closed doors, with questions over whether to allow the institutions to open up statewide and how to fund them.

Under the new law, there will be no cap on how many or where charters can be approved in the state.

Local school districts and the mayors of Lexington and Louisville will have the power to approve charter applications. Denied applications could be appealed to the Kentucky Board of Education.

Supporters of the law say charters will create competition for traditional public schools — especially under-performing ones.

Opponents worry that the law will sap students and funding from traditional public schools.

Charters will receive state funding based on student attendance, much like traditional public schools. But charters won’t receive funds for buildings or transportation. They will also have to pay a fee that would go back to local school districts and the state board of education.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell applauded the passage of the legislation last week.

“The flexibility offered by public charter schools encourages teachers and administrators to use good judgment in innovative ways to produce positive results for Kentucky children,” McConnell said. “Most importantly, public charter schools give parents additional options when selecting the school that is right for their child, particularly when they feel the needs of their child aren’t being met through the traditional public school model.”

Last week, the state Senate voted 23-15 in favor of the bill. The House voted 53-43 in a final vote to accept changes the Senate made to the bill. Bevin signed it into law on Tuesday.

ICYMI: City leaders support Meals on Wheels, Vogt Scholarships awarded, Trump visit and protest Friday, Mar 17 2017 

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness and a Friday. That’s quite the trifecta. You’ve probably been too busy figuring out how you’re going to watch the UofL game without your boss seeing to have seen these stories…  Local leaders step up to support Louisville’s Meals on Wheels program On Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget chief, defended […]

School, crime bills among a bevy yet to be finished by Kentucky legislature Friday, Mar 17 2017 

By John Cheves Lexington Herald-Leader Forty-eight hours remain in Kentucky’s 2017 General Assembly — March 29 and 30 — and dozens of bills stand just a few steps shy of being signed into law. Here are some of the proposals awaiting legislators’ return to the Capitol after their two-week break that began late Wednesday: Senate […]

LouisvilleKY student nabs 2nd Derby Festival Spelling Bee title Tuesday, Mar 14 2017 


March 11, 2017. Louisville, KY.   – 11-year-old Tara Singh of Louisville is a two-time champion after winning her second consecutive Derby Festival Spelling Bee. Singh also won the competition in 2016.  She correctly spelled “Gloxinia” – Any of several tropical South American plans of the genus Sinningia. The competition was held in the Bomhard Theater at the Kentucky Center for the Arts (501 W. Main Street in Louisville). Ashley DeVore of Fayette County, Kentucky, was runner-up in the competition among students from Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Tara Singh Spelling Bee Winner Photo 2

Singh represents Jefferson County Private Schools and is a 7th grade student at Louisville Classical Academy. This was her fourth year competing in the Derby Festival Spelling Bee. 61 students from 59 counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana participated in today’s 24th annual Ford Motor Company Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee, going through 238 words, 10 full rounds and 1 championship round.


“I feel exhausted right now,” said Singh after being named champion of the bee. “I was definitely nervous. But, I love competing and am just honored to be here with all these other great spellers.” Singh will not get any time off from studying. She’ll compete in another bee next weekend in hopes of qualifying to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee this summer.


For today’s win, Singh received the John & Joan Murphy Memorial Scholarship Fund, a $10,000 savings bond at maturity from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation, the Derby Festival’s charitable arm.  She also received a Britannica online subscription gift certificate, Blue Orange Games: Speedeebee, an Amazon.com gift card and a trophy. Singh will also have the opportunity to ride the Winner’s Float in the 62nd annual Republic Bank Pegasus Parade on May 4th.


Ashley DeVore received the Barbara Cox Memorial Scholarship, a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond for finishing runner-up in the 24th annual competition. JC Hyde of Floyd County, Indiana, finished third, winning a $3,000 savings bond. Ava Chuppe of McCracken County finished fourth and received a $1,500 savings bond. Ariti Gani of Warren County finished fifth, winning a $1,000 savings bond. The prize money is provided by the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation – the Derby Festival’s charitable arm.


The Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee is sponsored by Ford Motor Company, with Media Sponsors Kentucky Monthly and 840WHAS.


The Derby Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation.  It entertains more than 1.5 million people annually. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.


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Pruitt Sets Town Halls Amid Potential Changes For Public Education Monday, Mar 13 2017 

The head of the Kentucky Department of Education will hold a series of town hall events across the state in the coming weeks.

The meetings come in the wake of controversial changes being pushed by the Republican-led state legislature for public education in Kentucky.

Commissioner Stephen Pruitt will make stops at five schools across the state to get feedback from residents on a new accountability system that’s been under development by state officials for the last year, according to the education department.

The accountability system is being designed to evaluate schools on five indicators and comes as the federal government shifts oversight and responsibility for school accountability to states, according to a news release from the department.

But Pruitt’s town halls come as lawmakers are considering legislation to enable the creation of charter schools, which could bring fundamental changes to public education in the state.

It’s still unclear if the bill will pass the General Assembly. But supporters, including Gov. Matt Bevin, have championed the benefits of broader school choice. Opponents say charter schools would leach funding and resources from existing public schools.

Pruitt has previously said charters can work, but they’re not a silver bullet to solve the problems facing public education in Kentucky.

His visit to Louisville also comes just more than a month after he announced plans to conduct a sweeping audit of Jefferson County Public Schools. The audit of the district’s management could lead to a state-takeover of Kentucky’s largest school district, he told The Courier-Journal.

“We see some things that are concerning, in some cases alarming,” he said.

Pruitt is set to be in Louisville on March 22 at the Kentucky School for the Blind. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

How Bill Could Upend Cross-County Busing In Louisville Saturday, Mar 11 2017 

For years, students in Louisville, have been bused across the city and county. It’s been part of an effort to create more diverse schools in a highly-segregated city.

But a bill moving through the state legislature could upend that system.

Success Story

A couple months ago, Shan’Taya Cowan got into Harvard.

“I don’t know I just froze,” Cowan said. “I just saw the first word, which was like ‘congratulations’ and I just didn’t know what to do. Because like, it was never really an option for me.”

Cowan is one of the successes of Louisville’s busing program.

For the last four years, she woke up early to take a bus to Fairdale High School, 15 miles away from her home.

She said she got a better education because of it.

“It’s just way easier to make a connection with people and build a bond and it’s and you know that you have a lot of like people to help you along the way,” she said.

Cowan is scared that ending the busing program would keep future kids in the West End from experiencing the same benefits she did.

“They’re going to grow up in a bubble,” she said. “All they’re going to know is the kids that live down the street, around the corner, next door; that’s all they’re going to know.”

The bill making its way through the legislature would give priority school assignments to students who live closest to schools. That flies in the face of how Louisville makes those assignments now.

For middle and high schools, the school board has drawn broad boundaries that include distant neighborhoods to promote diversity. And elementary students have to choose from a handful of schools based on their home addresses, some of which are far away.

But the policy has its detractors.

Louisville resident Peter Massey’s 7-year-old daughter wasn’t matched to the elementary school just three blocks away.

She was assigned a poorly performing school on the other side of town.

“We didn’t want to put our — at the time 6-year-old — on a school bus for 45-50 minutes a day each way,” said Massey.

The Masseys ended up enrolling their daughter in a nearby Catholic school and he said they’re pleased with their decision. But he still wants the policy changed.

“To not be able to have that choice to go to school close there and be involved in that and have our kids be able to know other kids in the neighborhood that go to school together just was a shock to us,” he said.

A ‘real tumultuous time’

In 1975, riots broke out in Louisville out after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the city to begin busing students to integrate white schools in the suburbs and largely black ones in the city.

At suburban Fairdale High School, where Shan’Taya Cowan goes, people threw bricks through bus and car windows and armed guards were put on school buses.

Louisville resident Amy Shir was in middle school at the time and had to switch from a white school to a predominantly black one.

“There were people throwing bricks at each other’s cars, there were riots,” Shir said. “I remember a lot of white flight, particularly into catholic schools. It was a real tumultuous time.”

Louisville was released from desegregation orders in 2000, but the city has kept its policies in place with several tweaks over the years.

Shir has two children in Jefferson County Public Schools. She doesn’t want the policies to go away.

“As someone who wants to raise children that are open minded and compassionate and whatnot, I think we start young, I think we get our kids together young so they get to know each other,” she said.

The neighborhood schools bill has already passed Kentucky’s House of Representatives and awaits a hearing in the state Senate, which has passed similar measures in recent years.

Time Running Short, Neighborhood Schools Bill Still Awaits Hearing Thursday, Mar 9 2017 

A controversial bill that would change the way local school districts assign students to schools is running out of time as lawmakers close in on the final four working days of the General Assembly.

The bill would give priority to students who live closest to schools — and would likely mean the end of Louisville’s anti-segregation program designed to mingle students from different races, backgrounds and parts of town in the same schools.

The measure passed the state House of Representatives two weeks ago, but it hasn’t yet had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee, which is the next step in the legislative process.

Bowling Green Republican Sen. Mike Wilson, chair of the Education Committee, directed questions about the legislation to Louisville Sen. Dan Seum, who has proposed similar measures in the past.

“Sen. Dan Seum from Louisville is taking the lead on that, and I know he’s been having meetings,” Wilson said Thursday. “And so I’m awaiting word from him to either put it on the agenda or not. So that’s totally up to him.”

Seum could not be reached for a comment on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Seum proposed an amendment that would limit the legislation to elementary schools in Louisville, saying that the city’s youngest students should be exempted from long bus rides.

“I have never figured out how you take an at-risk child and stick him on a school bus two hours a day and somehow you get a better educated kid,” Seum said.

The state Senate has approved neighborhood schools bills twice in recent years, though the legislation was never taken up by the House, which was, until this year, controlled by Democrats for nearly a century.

Criticism in Louisville

Louisville began its anti-segregation busing program in the 1970s. A series of court decisions have upheld and tweaked the busing system in the decades since, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that there is a compelling governmental interest in maintaining diversity in public schools.

The neighborhood schools program has drawn major pushback from some Louisville residents, who say it would effectively re-segregate the city’s public schools.

“I think it’s a very unwise and reckless bill,” said Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat from Louisville. “I think it’s a retreat to the past. I think it serves nothing in terms of what we’ve invested in our system going forward.”

When asked about the bill’s uncertain trajectory, Neal said it could still be revived.

“It has slowed down, there’s no question. But that doesn’t mean it won’t pop up, because it’s in a political gambit and a lot of dynamics get involved in that,” he said.

The Senate Education Committee will likely meet next week to discuss another bill that has taken an uncertain course: charter schools.

Lawmakers have four more official working days during this year’s legislative session, but they also have plenty of time to negotiate. Starting next week, the governor’s 10-day veto period takes place. The General Assembly will end on March 30.

Sweeping Public Education Bill Nears Passage In Legislature Tuesday, Mar 7 2017 

An omnibus bill that would overhaul the state’s education system and gradually remove Common Core standards from Kentucky classrooms is nearing final passage in the General Assembly.

The bill would change the way students are tested, use teachers to create new education standards and replace school self-evaluations called program reviews.

Sen. Mike Wilson is a Republican from Bowling Green and the bill’s sponsor.

“We have an incredible opportunity here, ladies and gentlemen, to return control back to our state from the federal government as well back to our local districts,” Wilson said during a House Committee on Education.

Senate Bill 1 passed out of the committee without any changes from the version passed out of the Senate earlier this session.

The legislation would create a process to review academic standards every six years, starting in the 2017-18 school year.

The policy would include several levels of input from the public, teachers and lawmakers providing recommendations that would eventually go to the state board of education.

“What a bill is, especially this bill, is a skeleton,” Wilson said. “And what will be filled out in regulations and the accountability system that the commissioner is already working on will determine how that is all done.”

Local school districts would also get more say in how to get low performing schools back on track under the bill.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence applauded the bill’s passage out of committee.

“We are pleased that the House Education Committee expressed support for SB1’s overall focus on student achievement and closing achievement gaps,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard Committee executive director. “The Committee still believes that SB1 would be strengthened by the addition of an explicitly stated ambitious goal, expressed by the General Assembly to guide the Commonwealth in moving from the middle of education rankings nationally to the top tier of all states in this generation.”

The bill now heads to the House floor where it will be considered for final passage.

LouisvilleKY’s Bellarmine and JCPS to host second annual STEAM Maker Faire for local students Monday, Mar 6 2017 


Louisville, KY., – The second Bellarmine-JCPS STEAM Maker Faire will take place Friday, April 21, 2017, from 6:00 to 9:00 at Bellarmine University’s SuRF Center. The free event will feature students (with project teachers and coaches) presenting their designs and creations based on the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) investigations they have learned as part of a partnership between Bellarmine University and Jefferson County Public Schools.

Last year’s event drew over 200 community visitors observing and participating in experiments involving topics such as robotics, coding and solar energy; while this year’s specific exhibits promise to be a surprise, organizers anticipate double the number of attendees this year.

“The idea of a maker faire is to give an opportunity to showcase the DOING of STEAM and get people excited,” says Dr. Kristin Cook, who co-directs the project with fellow Bellarmine school of education professor Dr. Sarah Bush.

bellarmine logo


The centerpiece of the maker faire will be the work of students from the five elementary schools involved in the two-year STEAM program—Alex R. Kennedy, Bowen, Brandeis, Field and Tully—although all ages are welcome to join in the fun. True to the concept of a maker faire, there will be opportunities for participants to partake in hands-on creating.

Lest the arts be overlooked in STEAM, Cook says it is the current of humanity and community that runs through the entire undertaking: “Art comes in a lot of forms,” Cook says. “It goes beyond arts and crafts. It is about performance and thinking about empathy, thinking about expression. The arts are infused [in STEAM] in a variety of ways. We use problem-based inquiries using the design thinking framework to connect artists and engineers,” she offers as an explanation. In other words, she says, “students solve real-world, authentic problems in the community. It’s getting into the minds of those you’re designing for, and starting with empathy.”

From whatever angle attendees approach the maker faire, there promises to be something for everyone from the curious beginner to the experienced professional—and it’s happening right here in our schools. “There are lots of really cool things going on at the district level that people can replicate,” Cook says.

The Bellarmine-JCPS STEAM Maker Faire will also include three key informal learning partners on the project: the Kentucky Science Center, the Speed Art Museum, and the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

For more information on the Bellarmine-JCPS STEAM Maker Faire, e-mail Dr. Cook at kcook@bellarmine.edu.

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