Five Ideas: What are your thoughts about these items in the news this week?

Saturday, September 27, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT

Do the math

Every six years, the Columbia Board of Education has the chance to review existing strategies for math. The curriculum under question is reviewed and honed for areas that need improvement. It’s a benchmark for progress or a chance for those teachers and parents who have been complaining about outdated strategies to get the change they’ve pleaded for.

After looking into the “investigations” math program used by Columbia Public Schools, the board decided to abandon the existing curriculum and move back to traditional math. Interim Superintendent Jim Ritter said in a story published by the Missourian that the district’s math issues had divided the community.

With more than 60 people in attendance at last week’s board meeting arguing about the proposed changes to the math program, Ritter obviously wasn't making an overstatement.

At the core of the argument, however, is this: What is the best approach to teaching math to elementary school students?

“Investigations” is an elementary-level math program that uses multiple strategies and real-world analogies to solve math problems, according to the Missourian. Traditional math uses algorithms such as multiplication tables and long division.

What approach to math works best for you or your children?

Cozy First Ward designs

Cottage. The word evokes a trip to grandma’s comfortable, cute home nestled in the woods — not a trip to many of the decrepit and crumbling First Ward residences. But one man has dared to suggest making small, innovative cottages the norm in a ward that has become disfigured by aging homes and unkempt properties.

Amir Ziv’s vision includes developing three 870-square-foot cottages on two lots in the Ridgeway neighborhood. Despite praise from city officials, the Planning and Zoning Commission has not approved a rezoning permit for Ziv’s dream.  Commissioners and neighbors spoke out against the plan, which would include garages that faced the street and three homes on two lots.

With a difficult housing market and tough economic times, here is a man who actually wants to rebuild the First Ward’s image,  but the city is being uncooperative.  According to the Missourian last week, the city said if the garages were moved, the design might be approved. Nevertheless, neighbors voiced their concerns that the unusual design would not fit in with the other homes in the neighborhood.

What is the best plan for rehabbing run-down houses in the First Ward?   

A signature doesn’t mean anything   

Why wait? Some bicycle enthusiasts have asked this question of the proposed I-70 overpass that will allow bicyclists to safely cross the interstate into Cosmopolitan Park.

The project would take $1 million of GetAbout Columbia’s $13 million reserves. Last week, council members delayed the project, hoping that highway funding would cover some of the costs.

The GetAbout fund isn’t money to waste on frivolous projects, but the I-70 overpass was highlighted as a vital improvement for bicyclists around Columbia. GetAbout officials gave it their highest rating, a "signature" label.

With $13 million in the bank, the funds are available to begin construction, but the project will now be delayed for a few years as the city waits for what may be phantom money to appear from other sources.

Council members said the project was important but “did not rise to the top with limited funds.”

Should the city foot the bill for the overpass or wait for additional funding?

Troubled loan agency

MOHELA is taking one hit after another. A credit market crisis made its loans harder to sell, a law passed in 2007 made the student loan program less appealing for student lenders, and a Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative ripped $320 million out of its pocket to pay for new university buildings in September 2007.

An initiative by Gov. Matt Blunt calls for $5 million in quarterly payments from Missouri’s student loan agency for the university construction program for the next six years. Certain regulations are in place to stem the flow of money if it affects the agency’s ability to serve students or its existence is threatened by the financial burden.

After the MOHELA board of directors voted to pay $100,000 toward June’s late payment, the amount they still owe the state remains $3.6 million and will increase to more than $8 million when it misses another payment at the end of September.

Missed payments will delay new building construction but also may place MOHELA in danger.  Student loan agencies like MOHELA are in place in several other states and are feeling the effects of a troubled credit market nationally, but they don’t have the proposed $350 million initiative working against them.

Given the current credit crunch, should the General Assembly revisit the legislation for the Lewis and Clark Initiative?

Lights out, good dreams

On Thursday night, among fire twirlers, one-man band troupes on the street corner and face painting in the park, there was a feeling of loss as thousands of community members said farewell to the Twilight Festival.

The Missourian has heralded the end to the 19 year festival for months, citing people in town who blamed the crime among teenagers and a lack of business that lead to closing down a festival meant to bring the community together.

After fights broke out during a number of festivals,  the Columbia Police Department requested more officers for Twilight events and downtown businesses brought more employees to help watch for shoplifting.

The problems prevailed, and  Twilight Festival ended Thursday. Is this the case of one bad apple ruining it for the rest?

In 2004, businesses earned $2 million from festival sales. In 2007, attendance at Twilight peaked at 12,000.

With more people, there is likely to be more trouble. But for community members who have enjoyed the festival for more than a decade, the reasons for attending were often based on nostalgia.

Yet the end to one thing could mean the beginning of a new and better event.
The funds that supported the Twilight Festival could be put toward different community endeavors for the future.

What events would you like to see in the city?

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JOHN PAULLING September 28, 2008 | 8:27 a.m.

Should the city foot the bill for the overpass or wait for additional funding?

Ideally, neither. The creation of I-70 is the cause of this inaccessibility and projects like the construction of the overpass should rightly be considered part of the construction or maintenance cost of building I-70.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 28, 2008 | 10:59 a.m.

I agree with JOHN PAULLING on that no the City should not fund the over walk for the sole reason just because a "select group of people" think they need it right now. That is ridiculous in nature to even go that way.
If the City wants to invest some of that GetAbout money that is burning a huge hole in their pocket why not fix some of the handicapped sidewalk entry points for our wheel chaired population that are in desperate need of repair or replacement or is the GetAbout Money only for that "Select Group Of Citizens" who ride bicycles around our town?
Yes I know the GetAbout Funding is for non motorized forms of transportation but is that only to be accounted to Gas Powered transportation only or all forms of transportation no matter if it is a "Electric Powered Wheel Chair/Scooter"?
Last I checked a "Electric Powered Wheel Chair/Scooter" does not come under the Federal Transportation Guidelines as being classified as a "Motorized Form of Transportation" as those class of vehicles require you to register them and license them as well to collect tax moneys from.
Electric Powered Wheelchairs/Scooters are not required by law exemption to be licensed at any time so why is the city only using the money for bike paths and trials only and not looking to fix some of the wheel chair/scooter entry points on alot of our sidewalks all over town as well.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 28, 2008 | 4:19 p.m.

Entry points are in good shape, Chuck. Please learn to write.

Can a person in a wheelchair (powered or otherwise) get from Paquin to the WalMart on Broadway? From what I see, they could, easily. Plus, I understand they have city funded trips to Walmart, and other places, from Paquin every month.

What's the problem?


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 28, 2008 | 6:04 p.m.

Mark Foecking I was not talking about residents at Paquin Tower by far. I was talking about all other disabled citizens around the entire Columbia area. You are wrong as all entry points are not good by far. All you seem to do is attack those residents of Paquin Tower as you single them out as the only disabled citizens in Columbia. What about Freedom House? What about Oak Tower? What about Bear Creek? What about all other residential housing developments that are built and geared towards the disabled in this city? All I have ever seen you do is attack or hyper focus on the residents of Paquin Tower or myself. This is not about the residents of Paquin Tower nor about me as you often times make it out to be by your posts not only here but on another forum board. This is about the over all disabled population of the City of Columbia and their ease of access to any and all places just as anybody else expects in this city who pays into the City Tax Fund no matter how that money gets there. This is about access abilities as a whole.
Are those GetAbout Funds only for the "select group" of citizens or only one particular project in this city?
I do believe those funds are geared toward non motorized transportational needs and upkeep of projects so tell me and all of these other readers here what is wrong with some of those funds going to fix those sidewalk corner points of access that might need repair or upgrades with those funds since wheelchairs and scooters are not gas powered motorized modes of transportation. Unless Mark Foecking you got something against all of the disabled population of the City of Columbia which you do seem to carry.
If you even bother to look at the main GetAbout web site there is a picture even of a person in a wheel chair.
So if that is the case here once again why can't some of those funds be used to repair/upgrade some of the sidewalk corner entry points.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 28, 2008 | 6:44 p.m.

Let Habitat for Humanity partner with the city of Columbia. Insist that these rehabs are well insulated and as "green-friendly" as possible. Also insist that the roofs provide solar-electric roofing as introduced in KCMO, and utilize cost-efficient hot water heaters as described on the "Mother Earth News" website. We need to have affordable housing include affordable monthly heating/electric costs and make these homes as eco-friendly as possible.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 28, 2008 | 7:14 p.m.

I agree with you ray shapiro on the renovation ideas and how about making the renovated houses wheel chair friendly as well? I like the idea of Habitat and the City working hand on the project.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 28, 2008 | 11:53 p.m.

If the street level units along Park Avenue were rehabed, or other one story homes elsewhere, became wheelchair or scooter designated homes, it would help integrate certain low-income disabled into the community. These homes should also be "senior-citizen friendly."
All too often, this town concentrates on young marrieds with children or single parents.
I'd like to see the newest technology used for these homes for safety, comfort and energy efficiency.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 29, 2008 | 12:07 a.m.

What events would you like to see in the city?

I'd like to see the Twilight Festival return as a Sunday late afternoon event in the downtown area with the courthouse square used as the main stage for musical and other performances. If the business owners don't go for that, then Sunday afternoons at Flat Branch Park may work! I don't suggest both locations have activities going on at the same time.
(Not much goes on in Columbia Sundays after Church-time!)

(Report Comment)

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