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Magic festival

A sense

of wonder

Magic festival and related activities return to entertain shoppers and attendees at East Hills Shopping Center this weekend.

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Hawley refuses to kowtow on Hong Kong

Hawley refuses to kowtow on Hong Kong

Senator seems to understand that moral outrage trumps commercial dealings when the stakes are high enough.

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News-Press NOW game of the week

Savannah Savages travel to the Hound Pound in search of a road win against the Maryville Spoofhounds to battle for top MEC spot.

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School district falls short in performance report

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released its Annual Performance Report on Thursday, showing the St. Joseph School District scored below the state average and was off-target for various metrics.

This year’s report included visual bars that measure the metrics according to expectations rather than just data points. In academic achievement, the district scored below average and was on the floor for both English language arts and mathematics. Science scores were not available.

In college and career readiness, the district was on target in advanced placement and exceeded expectations in making progress toward post-secondary placement for all students. In the areas of attendance and ACT scores, the district saw improvements.

District Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl said while officials are pleased with the positive data, they know they have to continue addressing the areas where they fell short.

“Overall, it’s not a report that we’re happy with,” Van Zyl said. “There are some positive things to it, but overall it shows that we’re not performing at a level that we need our students to perform at. And so that means we have to take a look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

He went on to say that more in-depth discussions with the district’s Board of Education will be held regarding the APR results, and that certain programs, such as the Multi-Tiered System of Support, are certainly a step in the right direction toward providing a more well-rounded experience for students.

Van Zyl also acknowledged the district’s struggles in the past, leading to the consolidation of schools as well as the loss of numerous teachers over the last few years. And as a result of those events, he said the focus of the district has been largely on its finances.

“I don’t know that academics has been at the forefront of what this district is talking about for the last five or six years,” Van Zyl said. “We started bringing it back on board last year through conversations and through presentations to the board, and not that our folks haven’t been working on it behind the scenes, but I think that goes to show that when there’s not a full focus on academics … that things can slip, and that’s what we need to do is readjust and go forward and improve.”

As the district moves forward on its Master Facilities Plans, Van Zyl said the APR results most likely will be factored into community conversations.

However, while the two are linked, looking into what can be done sooner rather than later is a priority, he said.

“New facilities are nice. They help attract and retain staff and they provide learning opportunities for our students that maybe they don’t have now. But we have to make sure that we’re really focusing on those mainstay areas, the reading, writing and mathematics areas. Those are the ones that we haven’t been that successful at over the last few years,” Van Zyl said. “As a school district, our students aren’t walking out of here with everything that they probably need, and can that be related to facilities in some way? It can, but I also know that when you’re spreading resources over three high schools and four middle schools and 12 to 14 elementary schools, that’s hard to do, because the pie is only so big. You’re trying to attract and retain three quality science teachers, because you need three science teachers, because they have three high schools. That’s not always easy to do.”

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Conflict in Syria | Kurds to move away from border area

A whirlwind of diplomacy, legislation and recrimination played out from Washington to Ankara on Thursday, with the fate of Syrian Kurds in the balance.

An American delegation in Turkey, led by Vice President Mike Pence, negotiated a five-day cease-fire meant to curtail violence that ensued with a U.S. withdrawal from Syria and a Turkish offensive.

This pause in fighting will allow Kurdish forces to safely pull out of territory along the Turkey-Syria border.

Completion of this exit will result in a halt to Turkish military operations.

In Ankara, Turkey’s capital, Pence said the outcome amounted to “a great contribution to security in this region” and to the cooperation between the United States and Turkey.

Back home, members of Congress worked through their own opinions on the weeklong Syrian dilemma.

Members of the U.S. House on Wednesday approved a resolution, on a 354-to-60 vote, opposing the American withdrawal. North Missouri Congressman Sam Graves joined 128 Republican colleagues in voting “yea” on the measure.

Congressman Steve Watkins, whose district included counties in northeastern Kansas, stood as one of 60 votes against the resolution.

On Thursday, the Senate could not find consensus in responding to the Syria crisis. Republicans rejected an effort to condemn President Trump’s actions, though many voiced their support of the Kurds. A subsequent resolution to prevent arm sales to Turkey also got stopped in its tracks.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Republican leadership, voiced his disappointment on Wednesday about the choices made on Syria, particularly the loyalty the United States showed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Erdogan has not been a reliable ally. The Kurds have been a reliable ally,” Blunt said before the Pence visit. “Buying Russian military equipment, suggesting he won’t meet with the vice president of the United States and the secretary of state, I think shows how difficult this moment is.”

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said the American actions last weekend stalled efforts to look “for an enduring peace” in Syria.

“It is very concerning to see that we really have left behind and abandoned a strategic partner, the Kurds, who stood by our men and women in uniform in the fight to defeat (ISIS),” said Ernst, a Republican veteran who served in the Middle East.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican, lodged an objection to the proposed resolution condemning the withdrawal in Syria. He then offered his own legislation.

“The resolution that’s being offered is simply a way to have petty, partisan criticism of the president infect this body,” Paul said. “Mine, actually, would have the force of law and would prevent any arms from being sold to Turkey, which would be a serious rebuke to what they’re doing in Syria.”

A fellow Republican, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, objected to that, saying he would offer his own legislation.

Associated Press  


a knee

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes lies on the field after injuring his knee during a fourth-down conversion play against the Denver Broncos during the first half Thursday in Denver.

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