Morning News Briefs: Friday, May 4th, 2018
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NC Schools Chief, Board To Resist Ed. Agency Budget Cuts
North Carolina education officials are asking legislators to hold off on another $5 million budget cut this year.
The State Board of Education voted to join schools Superintendent Mark Johnson in asking the General Assembly to hold off on the budget cut coming in July. That would be on top of another $3 million slashed last year.
The education leaders say they want to reshape the state Department of Public Instruction, and the added budget cut would hinder changes that would increase efficiency.
NC School Board Hires Operator To Take Over Lagging School
North Carolina public school leaders are finalizing a contract paying an outside organization $100,000 a year to take over and operate a low-performing school for the first time.
The State Board of Education decided Thursday to approve the school operation contract with Achievement for All Children Inc. The Forest City-based nonprofit corporation was created only a year ago. Consultants who evaluated the group's takeover plan found it deficient in most of the measurement criteria.
A divided state school board last month still approved Achievement for All Children to take over Southside Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County after requiring extra oversight measures.
The school now becomes part of the state's 116th school district, which can take over schools anywhere in North Carolina that have repeatedly performed poorly.
Deal Ends Environmental Racism Complaint Against Hog Farms
The state Department of Environmental Quality and a coalition of environmental groups said Thursday they've resolved a four-year-old complaint about health problems affecting minority communities near large-scale hog operations.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year told the state agency it was concerned that minorities might have suffered outsized effects as concentrated animal feeding operations multiplied near their eastern North Carolina homes.
State environmental officials say they'll now launch an air quality study in Duplin County and expand existing water monitoring efforts in Sampson and Duplin counties.
The agreement ends civil rights complaints filed against the state environmental agency in 2014 and 2016.
North Carolina Flu-Related Deaths Reach Modern-Day Record
State officials say flu-related deaths in North Carolina have reached a modern-day record this season.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that one person died from flu in the past week, bringing this season's statewide total to 379 deaths. Most of those were among people age 65 and older.
This season's total is much higher than either the 2016-17 or 2014-15 seasons. In each of those, there were 218 confirmed flu-related deaths.
Officials say it's still not too late to get a flu shot. Although the six-month flu season officially ended March 31, the flu has been known to linger several weeks into April and early May.
Weekend Lane Closures Set For I-40 For Widening Project
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is continuing weekend lane closures on Interstate 40 just west of Winston-Salem.
A news release from the department says the closures will be west of the Yadkin River bridge near Clemmons. The closures are needed for ongoing widening work at the Davie-Forsyth County line.
Weather permitting, additional lane closures will take place from 7 p.m. on Friday until Sunday at noon. The same schedule will be followed Friday through Sunday on the first three weekends in June.