WRITER: Dylan Lysen

NASA meets with Kansas educators, businesses to offer resources and build relationships

Today’s educators are teaching students who will one day establish living quarters on the moon or even travel to Mars. That’s according to Sam Ortega, of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, who told the Journal-World the federal space organization thinks it's important to offer resources to K-12 educators and college faculty because they are helping to create a pipeline of workers who could soon expand ...

Douglas County commissioners say they want to hire Plinsky as permanent county administrator

The Douglas County Commission kicked off discussions about finding a permanent county administrator on Wednesday, but a majority of commissioners said they believed they have already found one in Sarah Plinsky. Plinsky has been serving as the interim county administrator since December, when the previous administrator, Craig Weinaug, retired after working for the county for 26 years. Although Weinaug announced ...

'Our students shine': Lawrence school district unveils new logo featuring lit lightbulb

The Lawrence school district unveiled a new logo through its social media platforms on Monday. The new logo features a lit lightbulb — with a star representing a student as the light source — wearing a blue mortar board, above the district’s name. Superintendent Anthony Lewis said on Monday during the Lawrence school board meeting that the logo represented the students of Lawrence: “bright, creative ...

Douglas County Commission expected to finalize 2020 budget, discuss county administrator search

The Douglas County Commission will soon consider authorizing its 2020 budget and begin discussions about finding a permanent county administrator. The commission previously said it would not begin the search for a new county administrator until the budget work was finished. Commissioners are expected to hold a public hearing on the budget and finalize it during their regular meeting on Wednesday. The budget ...

Lawrence school board makes cuts, approves 2020 budget; ratifies teacher compensation package with $1.9M increase

After making hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts, the Lawrence school board approved a 2020 fiscal year budget and ratified its agreement with the local teachers union. Kathy Johnson, executive director of finance for the district, proposed making $368,000 in cuts during the board’s Monday meeting to allow for it to finalize its budget that expects to spend about $105.4 million. The board unanimously ...

Before approving 2020 budget, school district will have to find $500K in cuts to fund teacher contract

Before the Lawrence school board considers giving final approval to its 2020 budget this week, it will need to make half a million dollars in cuts to cover its new teacher contract, officials told the Journal-World. Last week, the Lawrence Education Association and the school district’s administrators announced a tentative agreement to increase teacher compensation by a total of $1.9 million. The agreement ...

Summer STEM camp challenges students to design products for people with disabilities

A summer camp held in Lawrence this week asked high school students interested in science, technology, engineering and math to consider another important aspect of creating products for others: empathy. Design the Future, a weeklong STEM camp held on the University of Kansas campus, allowed area students to not only design and build products for people with disabilities but work firsthand with three people who ...

Regents to consider requesting $50 million increase in state funding for Kansas universities

The Kansas Board of Regents is considering asking the state government to increase higher education funding by $50 million for the 2020-2021 school year. The Regents met Thursday for their annual budget retreat at Kansas State University's polytechnic campus in Salina, where they began deliberating how much funding they will ask lawmakers to allocate to state universities for the 2021 fiscal year. In documents ...

Lawrence Public Library installs pay phone in effort to 'not leave people behind'

It’s not an announcement many would expect to see in 2019, but the Lawrence Public Library hopes the addition of a pay phone will help those who may need it. On Monday, the library announced that it had installed a brand new pay phone within its walls to allow people to make calls whenever they need to. While the announcement received several "LOLs" and jokes on the library’s Facebook page, library director ...

Free State High fine arts department receives statewide honor

A statewide organization has recognized Free State High School for performing "exceptionally well" in theater, music and other arts activities over the past school year. Representatives of the Kansas State High School Activities Association on Thursday surprised Free State's fine arts department with the 2019-2020 KSHSAA Performing Arts School of Excellence award. The honor is given each year to a school that ...

KU study: Women who own guns are more likely to be politically active than those who don't

A new University of Kansas study shows that women who own guns are more likely to be politically active than those who don’t, and its lead researcher says this may be impacting the gun control debate. The study, which was recently published in Social Sciences Quarterly, shows women who own guns are more likely to participate in gun policymaking by contacting public officials; contributing money to ...

Superintendent says district's new strategic plan will tackle weapons in Lawrence schools, other big issues

When Lawrence superintendent Anthony Lewis spoke to a student who brought a gun to Lawrence High School in February, he was shocked by what he heard. The student said they feared for their own safety and brought the gun for self-defense, Lewis told the Journal-World on Tuesday. What's more, he said, the teen didn’t feel like they had anyone in the school they could discuss the problem with. “As large as ...

County to prohibit water activities at Lone Star Lake for herbicide treatment

Updated story - Aug. 6 — County postpones Lone Star Lake herbicide treatment for a week Water activities at Lone Star Lake will be prohibited later this week while the Douglas County Public Works Office treats the lake for an invasive plant. The county announced in a news release last week that the Public Works Office plans to treat the lake for Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive species, on Wednesday and ...

Lawrence teachers union, school district come to tentative agreement of $1.9M increase in teacher compensation

The Lawrence school district and the local teachers union have reached a tentative agreement that increases teacher compensation by a little more than $1.9 million. Megan Epperson, co-lead negotiator for the Lawrence Education Association, told the Journal-World Monday that the tentative agreement will now be handed over to the union’s membership and the Lawrence school board, both of which will consider ...

As new school year nears, some Lawrence parents fear that elementary classes are too large

As the new school year approaches in Lawrence, some parents of students at Sunset Hill Elementary are fearing another year of their children being in a classroom with too many students for an optimal educational experience. Although some Lawrence school board members have said reducing the student-to-teacher ratio is a priority, finding solutions to help alleviate the issue won’t be easy and may take ...

July health code inspections: 16 found out of compliance in Douglas County

Sixteen organizations in Douglas County failed state health code inspections in July. Each month, I take a look at inspection results and list every place either listed out of compliance or with 10 or more code violations. Full reports are available online at agriculture.ks.gov. There, you can find details about specific violations, which can vary. Noncritical citations include unlabeled products, improperly ...

Court revokes one-time Lawrence rape suspect's probation; he will serve 13-month sentence

A man who was tried for rape in Lawrence and eventually pleaded to a less severe nonsexual crime will now have to serve a jail sentence of more than a year for violating his probation. Jared L. Wheeler, 24, was originally granted probation with an underlying 13-month jail sentence and one year of post-release supervision after he pleaded no contest to a felony count of aggravated battery in January 2017. But he ...

Asbestos, weather delays push back start of Lawrence high schools 6 days

Story updated at 4:36 p.m. Thursday Students at Lawrence's high schools will get to enjoy a longer summer break because of construction delays that resulted from recent severe weather and crews uncovering additional asbestos. The Lawrence school district announced in a news release Thursday that it will postpone the start of the school year for Free State and Lawrence high schools and Lawrence College and ...

Some KU students to see health insurance costs more than double

Some University of Kansas students will see their health care premiums more than double for the coverage period that includes the 2019-2020 school year. KU Interim Provost Carl Lejuez announced the changes to student insurance plans recently in a memo to the KU community. He said an increase in claims over the last two years caused United Healthcare, the company providing insurance for the Kansas Board of ...

Douglas County Commission privately discusses personnel matters in brief meeting

After privately discussing personnel matters, the Douglas County Commission wrapped up a brief meeting on Wednesday without taking any action. The only general business item on the commission's meeting agenda was an executive session. County leaders met privately to discuss matters involving the county’s nonelected personnel for about an hour. Prior to the executive session, commissioners made two ...