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Ohio's Board of Education Moves to Cut Back on Graduation Tests

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:53:45 +0000

The Ohio Board of Education is recommending lawmakers reduce the number of exams students must take to graduate. Board members voted Tuesday to get rid of three types of assessments. The first are local tests that are used solely to evaluate teachers. Ohio Board of Education members voted to also eliminate the WorkKeys exam , a test that students in career-tech pathways must pass to graduate. State Superintendent of Instruction Paolo DeMaria says the recommendation comes from a career-tech work group that studied the testing requirements. “The WorkKeys is seen as yet another exam that needs to be taken and not really adding any value to the process,” DeMaria said. Career-tech students must achieve an industry credential plus take end-of-course exams to graduate and DeMaria says that should be sufficient. The state school board also is recommending Ohio lawmakers do away with the end of the year English test for high school freshmen.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/state_testing.mp3




Development for Addiction Recovery App is Underway Thanks to Cleveland Company

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:38:08 +0000

A Cleveland company plans to develop an app to help those who are recovering from addiction. Ascent is an online service that connects recovering addicts to peer coaches and resources. The company was recently awarded $464,000 from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission to create a new app. The money is part of a $10 million state effort to use tech to fight the opioid crisis. Founder Brian Bailys believes it will open doors for those in recovery. “ "It’s the human touch that really helps people in recovery, and it’s very difficult for people to get sober by themselves. We believe in many pathways to recovery but if somebody can stay connected to a group of healthy people, it’s going to give them a dramatically better chance at longer-term recovery,” According to Bailys, 7,000 people have already signed up for the new app. It’s slated to be released the middle of next year.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/bailys_recoveryapp_0.mp3




Bail Bondsmen Reject the Idea That the System is Unfair

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:29:48 +0000

The head of the Ohio Bail Agents Association is responding to a report by the conservative Buckeye Institute calling the state's cash bail system unfair to poor defendants. Charles Miller says he agrees in principle that a person's wealth should not determine whether they get pretrial release. The judge or the system says, 'Hey, this person is truly indigent and can't afford bail and is nonviolent,' then so be it. But Miller disagrees with the report's findings that cash bail is unfair and that courts should stop using it. He says Ohio law already allows judges to consider a defendant's financial situation when setting bail and alternatives, such as counseling and pre-trial monitoring, cost taxpayers more money. Reformers argue those alternatives would actually save governments money, because they would spend less on jailing people accused of low-level crimes.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/bail_response_.mp3




Ohio Auditor Yost Says the Fiscal Health of Counties and Cities is Deteriorating Slightly

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:27:35 +0000

State Auditor Dave Yost is sounding a warning about the financial stress on Ohio’s counties and cities, saying their fiscal health is slightly worse than it was a year ago. Yost says nine cities and one county are showing signs of financial stress for the 2016 fiscal year and that’s not all. He says nearly two thirds of Ohio’s county governments show an increase in the number of indicators that could contribute to greater financial distress in the future. The information is on his website, which allows anyone to search the finances of the city or county where they live. “This tool is designed to help taxpayers and the people running the cities to have a better sense of what the future holds for them under their current status.” Yost says three counties are showing early signs they’re headed for trouble in the next few years, and Lawrence County in Southeast Ohio is only one indicator away from an elevated state of fiscal stress. Here's the list of cities showing signs of financial


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/yost.mp3




ACLU: Making Bail Fair Requires More Than Just Risk Assessment

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:20:59 +0000

A bill in the Ohio House would try to reform the jail system by basing bail on a person’s risk to society rather than how much money they have. Liberal and conservative groups both want changes in the criminal justice system. But when it comes to a new attempt to change the way bail is determined, the ACLU isn’t quite on board. The bill would attach bail to risk, the lower a person’s risk, the lower the bail. “But it could just bless the disparities that are already going on,” said Mike Brickner, senior policy director for ACLU. Brickner says, for example, people who fail to appear in court for past offenses earn a higher risk assessment. “When you look at the number of fail-to-appears, you’ll see more people of color, more low-income people skewing that number,” he said. Brickner suggests having a list of lower level crimes that are pre-determined to not require bail, unless a prosecutor argues otherwise.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/ACLU.mp3




Petitions Certified for Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Issue

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:12:59 +0000

Backers of a proposed Ohio constitutional amendment that would release low-level drug offenders from jail and direct money to treatment instead has cleared one hurdle. The amendment is meant to reduce the number of people locked up in state prisons by reducing nonviolent drug crimes to misdemeanors. It would also allow offenders to get credit for time served in treatment instead. And it would also direct state money saved from a smaller prison population into drug-treatment programs. The Ohio Ballot Board panel now says supporters can now circulate petitions to put it on the ballot. Those Ohio-based community activists will need to collect more than 300,000 valid petition signatures by July to put the issue on the 2018 statewide fall ballot.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/drug_ballot.mp3




Yet Another Fast-Spreading Disease is Threatening Ohio Trees

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:06:02 +0000

Researchers say they are stumped by a disease that’s infecting beech trees in Northeast Ohio. Beech leaf disease can be identified by curling leaves with dark stripes. The leaves fall earlier than normal and prevents the tree from blooming the next season. Mike Watson, conservation biologist at Holden Arboretum , says the cause of the disease and how it spreads is unknown. “We’re watching it in the natural areas ... and were looking at how it moves and how it progresses and seeing it can go from a stand that appears to be clean in one year to over 50 maybe 60 percent of trees have it within two years. So it’s progressing quickly and it seems to be everywhere on the property. Watson says the disease was first discovered in Painesville in 2012. Ohio has been battling other tree diseases and insects for decades, including the emerald ash borer and the oak wilt fungus .


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/watson_beech_tree_disease.mp3




Ohio Lawmaker Pushes for an Overhaul of the Bail System

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 01:39:23 +0000

A state lawmaker says the way bail is set for people who are arrested can sometimes be a backwards process. He proposes a way to overhaul the system and base it on risk rather than resources. Markcus Brown was picked up at a Dayton bus station in May for violating the transit authority’s dress policy, wearing a hoodie and baggy pants. He spent nine days in jail because he couldn’t afford bail. Meanwhile, others who are arrested for more serious, violent crimes leave jail after making bail. Republican Rep. Jon Dever is proposing a change. If the person poses a risk, then bail is higher. The lower the risk, the lower the bail, if any. “And realizing that all of our decisions when it comes to bail should be based on evidence and not how much money you have in your back pocket.” The conservative Buckeye Institute is backing the changes, and national criminal justice reform groups are supporting bills like Dever's, saying the issue needs to be addressed around the country.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/bail_reform_bill_wrap.mp3




Ohio Voters May See Another Marijuana Legalization Effort on the Ballot

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 01:20:21 +0000

Some of the people who brought a marijuana legalization plan to the ballot two years ago want to try to put a different one before voters next year. Jimmy Gould backed the 2015 amendment which failed overwhelmingly at the ballot box, and he was recently rejected for a large cultivator’s license by the state’s medical marijuana program. But he says it’s not that rejection but rather problems with the process that are prompting him to put an all-out legalization of marijuana before voters next year. “Let’s stop this nonsense. This is crazy.” Gould says his new plan would treat marijuana much like alcohol. Rob Walgate with the Ohio Business Roundtable says he wants to see the details. “We’ve got to take off the wrapping paper and look at the exact language. What are they trying to do?” Gould says he’ll have more details about the plan in the months ahead.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/radio_new_pot_plan_short_wrap.mp3




Akron Public Schools Plans to Save Big with Administrative Building Consolidation

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 01:17:57 +0000

Akron Public Schools is moving its administration to the former SummaCare building at 10 N. Main St. next year, a move the district says will save more than a million dollars a year. During its meeting last week , the board approved the purchase of the SummaCare building for $9 million. Currently, the administration is split between two buildings, both of which are more than a hundred years old and would require millions in repairs over the next 10 years, according to district spokesman Mark Williamson. “You can take old buildings and try to reuse them and it’s wonderfu. But we’re a public entity and we have to be responsible to our taxpayers. And the responsible thing to do is, if we found a good fit, use it. And that’s what we did, we finally found one.” The deal is expected to close by April.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/williamson_akron_schools_consolidation.mp3




Ohio's History Comes Alive in Nutcracker Adaptation

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:52:59 +0000

A version of "The Nutcracker" set in Ohio’s past is touring the region this holiday season.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/web_version.mp3




The GOP Tax Plan Could Boost Ohio Manufacturers and Hurt Health Care

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:59:02 +0000

The GOP tax plan isn't done yet, but tax-policy experts are already predicting benefits for Ohio manufacturers. Economists always hedge a little when it comes to predicting the future. Mark Sniderman is a former policy advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland . What he is willing to say is, “I see some benefits from the tax reform over the next couple of years, but then I see those benefits kind of gradually fading out." He says Ohio will probably see modest job gains. But the real winners will be manufacturers. On top of big tax cuts for corporations, the tax plan includes a provision that lets companies deduct the full cost of new equipment purchases immediately, instead of over a number of years. That means more money in the company coffers right now, which Republicans say will translate into jobs and higher wages. Amy Hanauer is skeptical. She heads up the nonprofit think-tank Policy Matters Ohio . "I mean, it's pretty clear that they'll increase corporate profits," Hanauer


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/tax_bill_predict_ma.mp3




Canton's High Tech Water Reclamation System Is Close to Completion

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:45:28 +0000

The largest membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment project in North America is nearing completion in Canton. Four years ago, Canton worked out with Kubota Industries for the Japanese maker of high-efficiency portable waste-water filtration units to scale up its technology for city-size use. Now, the last of a set of swimming pool-like tanks filled with membrane arrays— MBRs --is going in at Canton’s waste treatment plant. Water Reclamation Supervisor Tracy Mills says tests so far look good. “The MBRs to this point have exhibited an exceptional discharge to near drinking-water quality .” Mills says the sixth MBR will be done by Christmas and the “substantial completion date” for the $49 million construction project will be in February. “The original estimate was a little over $50 million for the construction aspect. We are under that. We anticipate that we’ll have one more change order, to clean up loose ends at the end of the project. That will take us into early 2018.” There are


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/rudell_canton_membrane_update_wrap.mp3




Environmental Crisis Looms as the Affects of the Opioid Epidemic Grow

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:36:41 +0000

As America confronts the opioid crisis, environmental scientists are warning about a related problem. Chemicals from pain-killers and other drugs often end up in lakes and rivers, creating what some scientists say could be a deadly cocktail for fish and other wildlife. “What we use in our everyday lives goes down the drain and ends up somewhere," says Emma Rosi , an aquatic ecosystem ecologist at the Cary Institute in New York. The effect of used and unused drugs Rosi's team studies a long trail of chemicals from opioids, antidepressants and even illicit drugs, such as cocaine. They get into the environment through human urine and feces. Sometimes unused medications are flushed down toilets and drains. The compounds eventually reach streams, lakes and rivers. "Anything that people are using in their everyday lives," Rosi says. "So when we think about the opioid crisis, which has a huge impact on people’s lives, there’s another side of it: Those drugs ... are ending up in the waste


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/morrison_environmental_crisis.mp3




Researchers Wade Into the Battle Over Paid Sick Leave

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:06:54 +0000

Chances are, if you’re feeling under the weather, you can call in sick and still get paid. But for around one-third of U.S. workers, that’s not an option. And a growing body of evidence shows that the lack of paid sick leave has consequences for all of us. In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair looks at research on the costs of not calling in sick.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/121717_exploradio_sunday_paid_sick_leave.mp3




Northeast Ohio Sees an Influx of Snowy Owls

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:23:00 +0000

A record number of snowy owls are stopping in Northeast Ohio due to a biological phenomenon. The owls are native to the Arctic. It’s normal to see one or two in Northeast Ohio during the winter. This year, 18 have been spotted in the Cleveland area just since Thanksgiving. Marty Calabrese, a naturalist at Cleveland Metroparks , says the reason is owls had more to eat this summer, which led to more offspring. There’s more snowy owls so their distribution is reaching further south. And we call that irruption with an I. Calabrese says the owls are not invasive, and are commonly seen along Lake Erie shore. They are expected to stay until March.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/snowy_owls.mp3




Parents Face Language Barriers With Their Children's Schools

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 00:33:38 +0000

A growing number of Ohio children live in homes with parents who speak little English. And a national education advocacy group says the state isn’t doing enough to communicate with those parents about their children’s schools. The nonprofit Data Quality Campaign annually reviews state school report cards in its “Show Me the Data” report. The 2017 report, released Wednesday, says Ohio does not translate school report cards into any other language, even though national data shows 100,000 children in the state live in homes where parents have difficulty speaking the language. Paige Kowalski is DQC’s executive vice president. "We know that every state has a population that speaks a language other than English but only nine states offer report cards in a second language.” Kowalski says language is one of the biggest barriers parents face when trying to access school information across the country.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/dqc_language_cc.mp3




Report: Ohio Focuses Too Much on Test Scores Instead of Student Progress

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 02:15:30 +0000

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute says Ohio’s school report cards are unfair to schools with high rates of poverty. The education research and advocacy group released its recommendations to improve Ohio’s school report cards Thursday. In it, the group says the state focuses too heavily on test scores and not enough on student long-term growth, leaving high poverty schools with D’s and F’s. Fordham’s Ohio Research Director Aaron Churchill says weighing a school’s grade more on student growth from year-to-year will help show which schools are truly improving academically. “And part of that’s explained by what we’ve seen in research over the years where lower income students trail behind their higher income peers on state testing.” Fordham also recommends Ohio reduce the number of letter grades contained on the report cards from the current 14 to 6.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/marra_report_cards_and_poverty_mp3.mp3




Ohio Official is Accused of Improperly Soliciting Thousands in Fees From a Contractor

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 02:03:22 +0000

A high-ranking official for the state's main administrative business agency is in trouble in a newly released report. The Ohio Inspector General’s report says Stuart Davis , who's the chief information officer for the state's Department of Administrative Services , solicited thousands of dollars from the head of CGI Technologies and Solutions. That business has contracts that Davis plays a part in overseeing. The I.G.’s report shows Davis asked for and received $37,000 from CGI to speak at a summit in Cincinnati. CGI has received nearly a quarter of a billion dollars for IT contracts with the state of Ohio since 2010. The results of the investigation are being turned over to local authorities who could choose to bring criminal charges.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/ingles_ig_goes_after_das_employee_mp3.mp3




Ohio Awards $10 Million For New Technology Projects To Fight Addiction

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 01:47:16 +0000

The state has awarded nearly $10 million for research and development projects to try to stem opioid addiction, part of the $20 million Gov. John Kasich said he wanted to set aside for high-tech solutions to the epidemic. “We look at it as a new class of opioid,” Sturmer said. Greg Sturmer is with Elysium Therapeutics . It is developing a new kind of pill that would limit how much of the painkilling substance would be released into the body. He says that could prevent overdoses and even stop addiction. “So there’s not that reward for ‘the more I take, the more high I get,” Sturmer said. Elysium got nearly $3 million from the state, which Sturmer says can help the company move forward with testing on animals and eventually humans. Other projects that got state money include programs that use analytics to identify and prevent addiction, other types of pain management devices, and a web-based service that can streamline recovery services.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wksu/audio/2017/12/pillz.mp3