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Nick’s Picks | Back to School, Big Bill and Abortion Debate

A Break in the Weather

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Thousands of area students head back to the classroom this week.

In Kansas, the Shawnee Mission and Olathe districts start their new school year on Thursday.

Students on the Missouri side get to enjoy their summer for a little while longer. The Kansas City, Independence and Lee’s Summit school districts won’t head back for another two weeks.

But on both sides of the state line, district leaders are prepping for a new school year with fewer teachers. 

In Kansas, a new report says the state is facing a record teacher shortage with 1,400 positions still open. The Missouri Department of Education is reporting more than 3,000 vacant slots.

About 135 school districts in Missouri are now implementing four-day school weeks to combat the shortages.

In Kansas, school districts are now offering signing bonuses for the first time. In the Kansas City, Kansas, School District, new hires are guaranteed $1,500 in upfront cash.

Big Bill

Your local members of Congress are heading back to Washington this week to finally vote on a long debated, but substantially scaled-back climate, tax and health care bill.

Called the “Inflation Reduction Act,” it provides new subsidies for so-called “green energy” purchases ranging from installing rooftop solar panels to buying electric vehicles.

Other provisions include limiting out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors and beefing up staffing at the IRS to target tax cheats.

The measure passed the Senate over the weekend and is expected to be voted on by the House on Friday. 

Abortion Debate

This week we’re watching to see whether another big shoe will drop in the tense political debate over abortion. 

Just days after Kansas voters rejected the “Value Them Both” amendment, it’s believed the measure’s backers will now launch a new campaign targeting judges.

Six of the seven justices on the Kansas Supreme Court are up for retention vote this fall.

It’s thought that placing abortion opponents on the court could be the next best path for pro-life groups intent on restricting the procedure.

Meanwhile, Kansas just opened its fifth abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood says it’s struggling to keep up with demand from pregnant women now arriving from states that have stripped away abortion access.

The new facility in Wyandotte County is currently operating on reduced hours while staffing ramps up.

Counting Signatures 

We now know that Republican Eric Schmitt and Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine will square off in Missouri’s biggest election race this fall. But will John Wood be joining them on the debate stage this fall?

Wood has been making headlines as the lead investigator on the January 6 congressional inquiry. He’s now stepped back to launch an independent bid for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat.

This week, Missouri election officials are busy counting and verifying the more than 20,000 signatures Wood collected to get his name on the ballot.

Even though Wood has some big political names supporting his campaign, including former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, independent candidates have historically fared poorly at the polls in Missouri. 

But it’s thought his campaign could still have an outsized impact if the race is close. He’ll likely pull votes away from both Schmitt and Valentine.

Break in the Weather

It’s finally safe to resume life outdoors this week. 

After enduring triple-digit heat, we’re going to be rewarded with temperatures in the 80s through Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service, we’ve now had more 100 degree days in Kansas City this year than in the last nine summers combined.

Remarkably, that’s not a record. You have to go back to the Dust Bowl for that.

In 1936 Kansas City hit 100 degrees an eye-popping 53 times.

Buck Plaque on Display

Buck O’Neil’s Hall of Fame plaque is heading to Kansas City this week as part of a Salute to the Negro Leagues weekend.

It will be on display at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on Friday before being transported to Kauffman Stadium on Saturday when the Royals take on the Dodgers.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, the Dodgers will wear throwback uniforms from the 1947 season. The Royals will be clad in 1945 Kansas City Monarchs jerseys.

Arrowhead Stadium Turns 50

Guess what’s turning 50 years old this week?

Arrowhead Stadium.

The home of the Chiefs opened on Aug. 12, 1972 with a preseason game against St. Louis. 

You could snag a seat back then for as little as $6, according to published reports from the time.

This week’s 50th birthday celebration comes during a period of uncertainty. 

The Chiefs are currently in the middle of a $500,000 study to consider whether they should renovate Arrowhead, build a new stadium on the same site or move elsewhere, possibly even on the Kansas side of state line.

The team’s lease at the Truman Sports Complex expires in 2031.

Chiefs flag waves in Arrowhead Stadium.
The Kansas City Chiefs flag flies at Arrowhead Stadium. (Courtesy | Kansas City Chiefs)

Big Music Week

Lots of big music names are heading to Kansas City this week. 

T-Mobile Center welcomes Imagine Dragons Tuesday night and The Lumineers will take the stage at the downtown arena on Saturday.

The Midland clears its stage for Australian indie rocker Courtney Barnett tonight and Father John Misty makes an appearance there on Tuesday evening.

Incubus headlines at the Azura Amphitheater in Bonner Springs on Friday.

And Melissa Etheridge returns to her home state for a show at Liberty Hall in Lawrence on Sunday.

Anyone for Corn Dogs?

There’ll be no shortage of corn dogs and funnel cakes this week as the Missouri State Fair gets underway.

And as it’s an election year, there may be more politicians than livestock at this year’s event.

Gov. Mike Parson will be in Sedalia Thursday morning to officially open this year’s fair, which will run for 11 days.

In addition to carnival rides and show-stopping tractor pull events, there’s the “Longest Beard” competition this year. The winner gets two free tickets to see ZZ Top. 

The Texas-based rock band is one of the fair’s big headliners this year, along with Trace Adkins and Sam Hunt.

The Kansas State Fair doesn’t start until the second week of September.

Nick Haines, tracks the week’s most impactful local news stories on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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