Amy Jeffries

News Director

Amy started her career in public radio at WNPR in Hartford, CT more than a decade ago. NPR flew her in to Baton Rouge to help WRKF cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while she was still based in the North. Here she found her journalistic calling.

After getting a Master of Journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley and taking a detour through online media as a local editor for Patch, she finally returned to public radio and to Baton Rouge in January 2012.

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Education
6:19 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Some Funds Slated for Districts to Go to 'Course Choice'

The state's top school board has approved $2 million in financing to pay for students to take individual classes elsewhere if their public school is underperforming or doesn't offer a course they want.

The money for the "Course Choice" program will be drawn from a state education trust fund stemming from an old oil drilling settlement, including $1 million that had been slated for local districts.

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Education
4:29 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

BESE to Consider Alternative Funding for 'Course Choice'

State Supt. John White wants to reallocate $2 million from a state education trust fund to pilot the “Course Choice” program. The program will let students take individual classes elsewhere if their public school is underperforming or doesn’t offer the course they want. The state’s top school board will consider the alternative funding request Tuesday.

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Environment
8:19 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Second Deadly Industrial Accident in Ascension Parish in as Many Days

UPDATE 10:14 p.m. CST WRKF's Kelly Connelly on the scene in Donaldsonville:

An industrial accident at North America’s largest nitrogen complex in Donaldsonville, La. has left one dead and at least five injured.

A little after 6 p.m. Friday, a crew at the CF Industries plant loaded too much nitrogen into a transportation tank, causing it to rupture. Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson described the mangled piece of equipment as a popped balloon. Louisiana State Police Capt. Doug Cain told the Associated Press a fire sparked by the blast was quickly extinguished.

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Education
5:49 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Seeds Planted for Chess Culture in Baton Rouge Schools

Clairborne Elementary gifted resource teacher Chris Wilson (front right) plays special education resource teacher Annie Fox in the chess tournament as Audubon Elementary computer lab teacher Contessa Hunt (back left) and Melsrose Elementary fourth grade teacher Michelle Vinson (back right) scrutinize their moves.
Credit Amy Jeffries / WRKF

About 200 teachers from 42 schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish district have signed up for workshops this summer to learn how to start chess clubs and use the game in their classrooms. The first batch of teachers capped off their training with a mini tournament Thursday.


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Environment
1:18 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Deadly Chemical Plant Explosion in Geismar

The plant on fire after it reportedly exploded Thursday in the town of Geismar, La.
Credit Ryan Meador / AP

UPDATED 9:22 p.m. CST:

The injured count is up to 77  and a 29-year-old man is dead after a chemical explosion in Geismar, La. Thursday. 

300 people were evacuated from the Williams Olefins plant, which produces over a billion pounds of propylene and ethylene a year for use in the production of other chemical and plastic products. It was propylene that caught fire after the explosion. Ten workers stayed behind to monitor a burn-off.

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Newspaper War
6:56 am
Tue June 11, 2013

The Advocate's Secret Weapon: A Speedy Press

FILE: The Advocate's Production Facility on Reiger Road in Baton Rouge, La.
Credit The Advocate

It's sort of a fluke.

The Baton Rouge paper had been nursing its 1950s era letterpresses for years when it finally had to bite the bullet and invest in a new production facility. The speedy offset press came online in 2006, just as the country headed into a recession and the newspaper industry was tanking.

So when John Georges closed the deal to buy The Advocate in May, it came with one of the newest printing presses in the country.


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Environment
5:08 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Keeping Track of Refinery Emissions

In its "Poisoned Places" series, NPR reports that industry here in Louisiana is emitting more smog-producing chemicals than it should and regulators aren't doing enough to curtail the pollution.

Elizabeth Shogren honed in on Exxon's Baton Rouge refinery and the smoke Almena Poray sees from the front porch of her house, a block from the refinery's south gate.

"That's something you see every day," Poray told the NPR reporter. "Sometimes it's a darker gray, sometimes it's a black smoke coming out."

Ed Overton, professor emeritus of environmental science at LSU, and Robert Berg, state regulatory advisor for Exxon talk more about what Poray is seeing and breathing from her front porch.


Education
5:23 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Senators Reject Delay of Teacher Evaluation, School Grading Changes

Attempts to slow down parts of a public education overhaul have been quashed.

The Senate Education Committee opted Thursday not to take action on a bill that would have put off changes to the school grading system that take ACT results into account.

Rep. Kenny Havard, who authored the bill, said using the college entrance exam in performance score calculations will penalize schools where career-bound students opt not to prepare for or take the test. Schools graded a “C” or worse by the state can lose students and resources.

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Education
11:36 am
Sat May 25, 2013

Course Choice Scaled Back After Court Ruling

State Superintendent John White wants to scrape the Department of Education's administrative budget to pay for public school students to take individual courses from private providers.

The Course Choice program had been included in the formula that supports public schools. But the same state Supreme Court ruling that shuttled the planned financing for vouchers, said those funds couldn't go to the new classes either.

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Education Overhaul
8:57 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Dust Settled, Lawmakers More Measured on Education Reforms

Baton Rouge Democrat Rep. Ted James (left) and New Orleans Republican Rep. Kirk Talbot have both proposed bills this session moderating the education overhaul of 2012.
Credit Amy Jeffries / WRKF

Earlier this month, Louisiana's Supreme Court ruled that the way the state's private school voucher program was paid for was unconstitutional. It can't be paid for through the Minimum Foundation Formula, or MFP -- the pool of money that supports public education.

Rep. Kirk Talbot, a Republican from New Orleans who voted in favor of the education overhaul Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed hard for last year, says the missteps in the funding of the voucher program gave some in the legislature, " a little bit of heartburn."

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