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Ed Department releases school report card


January 13th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Department of Education released its third annual Iowa School Report Card Thursday. Department director Ryan Wise says it’s designed to give a look at individual schools within a district. “You do see some schools that improved and some schools that declined in terms of their overall ranking,” Wise says. “You also see a slight overall shift downward this year — because there was statewide dip in test scores.”

The schools don’t get a letter grade, they instead are given rating. “Ranging from exceptional, high performing, commendable, acceptable, needs improvement, and priority And those ratings are created by a school’s performance in a number of areas related to student proficiency, student academic growth, attendance, graduation rates, staff retention. Those different measures compiled together make a school’s overall rating,” according to Wise.

He says some minor changes were made this year to include more schools in scores and ratings. Wise says they also added two categories in how schools are judged on closing achievement gaps. “In the previous year we looked at achievement gaps for students who had individualized education plans, who received free and reduced priced lunch or who were English language learners. We’ve added in two measures that also look at achievement gaps along racial and ethnic lines, so for students from diverse backgrounds,” Wise says.

The report card also includes a new summary review of efforts to get parents involved. “We’ve included a statewide survey of teachers on their practices in engaging parents and parental involvement,” Wise explains. “That addition isn’t scored this year — but it does provide another level of information for parent to look at in reviewing their school’s report card.”

Wise calls the report card a starting point for parents to evaluate their schools. “Parents shouldn’t stop at the ratings. They should use this as an opportunity to really engage with their childrens’ school. To say ‘tell me more about’ the areas that they are most interested in,” he says. Wise also sees the report card as something school administrators and staff can use. ” I hope that it will be a positive valuable tool at building level for principals to engage with their staff and say here’s where we’ve improved, hear a re things we think have contributed to that growth, here’s where we still face challenges — how can we continue to make progress in those areas?,” Wise says.

You can find the report card and your school’s rating at: www.educateiowa.gov/schoolreportcard. Wise says improvements will continue to the Iowa School Report Card, particularly after Iowa finalizes a new state plan for school accountability and support under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Friday, Jan. 13th 2017


January 13th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press at 3:40 a.m. CST

PROLE, IA — A central Iowa man died during a single-vehicle accident Thursday night, northeast of Prole. The Iowa State Patrol says 30-year old Tyler Wayne Winkleman, of Prole, was not wearing a seat belt when the pickup truck he was driving went out of control and crashed at around 8:10-p.m. on Gear Street, just east of 50th Avenue, in Warren County. The truck, which was traveling at a high rate of speed without its headlights on, left the road, and entered a ditch before hitting a tree, shearing the tree off at the trunk. The vehicle rolled onto the passenger side and came to rest against a grove of trees. The accident remains under investigation.

EAST PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — The fire department in East Peoria, Illinois, has found a way to save money by purchasing a refurbished ambulance. The (Peoria) Journal Star reports the ambulance started service runs this week having passed a state inspection. The fire department purchased the vehicle for about $214,000 from Arrow Ambulance, a company in Rock Rapids, Iowa. The Iowa company remounts refurbished ambulance boxes on new base frames. East Peoria officials say they saved about $40,000.

HOUSTON (AP) — Tommy Allsup, a guitarist who lost a coin toss that kept him off a plane that later crashed and killed rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson, has died. He was 85. Austin Allsup says his father died Wednesday at a Springfield, Missouri, hospital from complications from a hernia operation. Tommy Allsup was part of Holly’s band when the Lubbock, Texas, singer died in the 1959 plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa education officials expect to face a teacher shortage, and leaders are preparing to address the issue. The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa universities are graduating 400 fewer teachers, counselors and administrators a year than they did in 2013. Leaders are starting to tackle the issue, especially for special education and English language learning. The looming problem is also compounded by the number of teachers nearing retirement.

SUMNER, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a man who killed an intruder during an exchange of gunshots in northeast Iowa. Bremer County Sheriff Dan Pickett says that John Eimers was shot multiple times Friday night at his home in Sumner but returned fire and fatally wounded 46-year-old Steven Anthony, who lived in Davenport.


Senator Ernst questions defense department nominee


January 12th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst Thursday, questioned retired General James Mattis, the man nominated to lead the U-S Defense Department. The Republican from Red Oak started by asking several yes or no questions of Mattis during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. She asked Mattis if he would commit to making cutting wasteful spending a priority, if he would commit to working to prevent sexual assault and retaliation in the military, if he would commit leveraging the “unique capabilities of our guard and reserve forces” to enhance national security missions, and he answered yes to each.

Ernst meets w/Mattis before the hearing (Radio IA photo)

She also asked if he would commit to giving her advanced notice of any changes to the gender integration policies that are in place. “I will always keep this committee informed, mam,” Mattis replied.

Ernst went on to ask Mattis about dealing with ISIS. “How should our new administration address the rising threat of ISIS in southeast Asia, and will you commit to working with me on this sir?,” Ernst asked. “Absolutely Senator,” Mattis replied, “the way we do this, I think we have to deliver a very hard blow against ISIS in the middle east so there is no sense of invulnerability or invincibility there.”

Mattis the plan to deal with ISIS has to go beyond attacking and destroying them in the Middle East. “So you don’t squeeze them in one place and then they develop in another and we are right back to square one,” Mattis says. “We’ve got to have an integrated strategy on this — and it’s got to be one that goes after the recruiting and their fundraising as well as delivering a military blow to them in the Middle East.”

Ernst, who is the first female combat veteran to serve in the U-S Senate, also asked Mattis about upgrading the ammunition used by the military to be able to better deliver a punch to the enemy.

(Radio Iowa)

Man charged with killing 2 Iowa officers wants trial moved


January 12th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Attorneys for an Iowa man accused of killing two Des Moines-area police officers are seeking to have his trial moved, citing pretrial publicity. The Des Moines Register reports an attorney for 46-year-old Scott Michael Greene told a judge in a hearing Thursday that he plans to file the change-of-venue request within days.

Scott Greene has pleaded not guilty to two murder charges in the Nov. 2 ambush-style slayings of Urbandale Police Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines Police Sgt. Anthony Beminio.

The shootings took place about two miles apart within minutes of each other as both officers were sitting in their patrol cars. Authorities have said that Greene turned himself in hours later, and that a police dog later recovered a high-powered rifle used in the attacks.

Guitarist who avoided Buddy Holly plane crash dies at 85


January 12th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

HOUSTON (AP) — Tommy Allsup, a guitarist best known for losing a coin toss that kept him off a plane that later crashed and killed rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson, has died. He was 85.

Singer and musician Austin Allsup says his father died Wednesday at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, due to complications from a hernia operation. Tommy Allsup was part of Holly’s band when the Lubbock, Texas, singer died in the 1959 plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. Allsup flipped a coin to see if he or Valens would get a seat on the plane.

Austin Allsup said Thursday his father took losing the coin toss as a blessing and “knew that he was very lucky to be here.”

Creston teens injured in Thursday afternoon accident


January 12th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Union County Sheriff’s Office says a teenage driver and her passenger suffered suspected, minor injuries during a single-vehicle accident Thursday afternoon. 15-year old Devin Dawn Abell, of Creston, was driving a 2007 Saturn Vue eastbound on 190th Street at around 2:35-p.m., when she lost control of the vehicle. The SUV entered the south ditch and struck a fence before coming to rest. Abell, and her passenger, 15-year old Christian Michael Gist, of Creston, both of whom were wearing their seat belts, were transported by ambulance to the Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston, for treatment of their injuries. The vehicle sustained $6,000 damage during the accident. A fence, owned by Dan Martin, sustained about $600 damage.

Iowa man sentenced to prison for abusing preteen girl


January 12th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Sioux City man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for inappropriately touching a preteen girl over a five-year period. The Sioux City Journal reports 38-year-old Bryan Barnhart was sentenced Tuesday in Woodbury County District court, after pleading guilty to third-degree sexual abuse.

Court documents say that Barnhart babysat the girl from 2006 to 2011, starting when she was 5 years old. The girl told police that Barnhart touched her inappropriately many times during that period. Authorities say Barnhart admitted the allegations were true and acknowledged sexually abusing other children.

2 arrested in Council Bluffs in connection w/cab driver robbery


January 12th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Police in Council Bluffs have arrested two people in connection with the robbery early Thursday morning, of a cab driver. 23-year old Jessie Caballero, of Council Bluffs, and 36-year old Victor Garcia, of Omaha, were arrested at a residence located in the 200 block of 16th Avenue in Council Bluffs, and are currently in custody at the Pottawattamie County Jail.  Both face charges of Robbery in the 3rd Degree and Interference with Official Acts.

Their arrests followed an investigation that began with a report at around 5:45-a.m., of a robbery in the 1600 block Harry Langdon Blvd. Upon arrival officers located the victim, 64-year old Donald Vanderwerf, of Omaha, who is a cab driver. Vanderwerf told officers that he picked a fare in Omaha and gave the male and female passengers a ride to a business in the 1600 Block of Harry Landon Blvd in Council Bluffs.

At that location the suspects told Vanderwerf they were unable to pay the fare and  Caballero ran from the area. As she ran from area, Garcia allegedly pointed what appeared to be a handgun at Vanderwerf. Garcia then turned and ran from the area as well.

During the preliminary investigation officers were able to establish information on the possible identity of the female suspect (Caballero). They proceeded to a home in the 200 block 16th Ave where they obtained consent to search the residence. Inside the residence they located Caballero and her male accomplice, Victor Garcia.

Officers recovered a pellet pistol and other evidence related to the crime.



Iowa preparing for looming teacher shortage


January 12th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa education officials expect the state to face a teacher shortage, and leaders are preparing to address the issue. The Des Moines Register reports Iowa universities are graduating 400 fewer teachers, counselors and administrators annually than in 2013. The Iowa Department of Education says about 2,100 graduates are earning education degrees a year.

Education leaders are hosting round-table discussions and increasing recruiting efforts, especially for jobs in special-education. The looming problem is also compounded by the number of teachers nearing retirement. Some education officials are increasing incentives to lure applicants. Des Moines Public Schools is offering a $3,000 signing bonus to special education teachers.

Anne Sullivan, chief of human resources in Des Moines schools, says another incentive for teachers beginning their careers is a free master’s program.

Native American site in N.W. Iowa gets historic designation


January 12th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

WESTFIELD, Iowa (AP) – A site in northwest Iowa inhabited by Native Americans roughly 800 years ago is now designated a National Historic Landmark. The designation announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of the Interior highlights the location’s significance and offers some protection against development.

The Sioux City Journal reports that historians believe the 1.9-acre Kimball Village Site near Westfield was inhabited between 1100 and 1250 by Prairie-Plains tribes living along the Big Sioux River. The site remains about 97 percent untouched despite several archaeological field investigations.

State archaeologist John Doershuk says the exact location of the site, which is in the middle of a farm field, will be kept confidential under the new designation due to private property rights. The site is marked by a mound that rises several feet above ground.