We know that you listen to us on air and check our website for news and information about our region. We hope that you look at our website every day, but we know that's not always possible. So, once a week, on Friday, we will highlight some of the website's top stories of the week.
New chapters in education
Cheap living, a network of startup incubators and some success stories have raised St. Louis’ profile among investors looking to get in early on the next big thing. Though much of the focus has been on financial services, the life sciences and agriculture, momentum is building in education. An effort is underway to harness local startup energy toward improving classroom success. At the same time, questions linger about what education should look like in the digital age.
This fall, eight new charter schools — tuition-free, public schools run independently of public district control — are slated to open in St. Louis. If students fill the 2,000 extra seats, St. Louis’ charter schools could reach a record enrollment of more than 11,700 students.
The recent sharp drop in gas prices did more than please motorists. It also will help University of Missouri students save money all school year. Curators of the four-campus system have approved a tuition increase of just 0.8 percent for the 2015-16 school year. That follows a tuition freeze approved for the current school year. Still, students are carrying a bigger share of the university's cost: In the current year, the university gets 51 percent of its support from students, 36 percent from the state and 13 percent from other sources.
Preserving the past
For the first time in more than 20 years, the Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindbergh’s beloved single-engine plane that carried him to fame and the $25,000 Orteig Prize in 1927, is back on the ground — sort of. The iconic piece of aviation history is now sitting on the floor in the main lobby of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Experts will examine every inch of the plane, assess its condition, review and document previous repairs and address the toll time takes on historic artifacts.
As Missouri legislators roam the state Capitol, they frequently run into familiar lobbyists. More and more, though, these lobbyists are working for groups financed by unfamiliar donors. In fact, their identity is secret. Such groups are nonprofits officially known as 501C4s, and they can support or oppose candidates, just like political action committees. But 501C4s don’t have to report their donors or file detailed reports on their spending, as PACs must do.
After a few years of going nowhere, ethics reform may finally be gaining traction within the Republican-dominated Missouri legislature. On Wednesday, the Missouri Senate gave first-round approval to a wide-ranging bill, and on Monday, two bills are scheduled to be voted on.
Next steps moving forward
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger won’t have a direct role in picking the replacement for St. Louis Economic Development Partnership CEO Denny Coleman. But with an eye toward a more aggressive economic development strategy, Stenger says he wants Coleman’s successor to be assertive in seeking out new opportunities.
Last week, personnel from most of the 82 municipal courts in St. Louis County took a first look at voluntary reforms proposed by the St. Louis County Municipal Court Improvement Committee. Monday, the advocacy group Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment unveiled its own reform proposals. Though the groups are coming at the topic from very different angles, some of the proposed reforms are similar.
Cease-fire in drug war?
With hundreds of people in the metro area dying each year from heroin overdoses, St. Louis County Police Detective Casey Lambert is talking to people across the county, of all ages, about heroin - what it does to the body, why it's so dangerous, and how to recognize signs of addiction. Even with so many deaths, Lambert said most people don’t know who is most at risk. "It's 14- to -15-year-olds, it's young kids getting their hands on this," Lambert said. "It's people with bright futures ahead of them. They've been on the honor roll, straight A's, with their church youth groups, the MVP of a basketball team."