Coming up on Connections: Wednesday, April 1st

2 hours ago

First hour: Climate change and the Great Filter

Second hour: RMSC's Science on the Edge

Lawmakers Racing to Meet Budget Deadline

4 hours ago
Karen DeWitt

Governor Cuomo and lawmakers finalized deals on education and ethics and were on track to pass the budget by the midnight deadline.

Legislators began passing the final budget bills in the late afternoon, with only a few hours left until the deadline.

The final sticking points of the spending plan, resolved Tuesday, include a new teacher evaluation plan and changes to teacher tenure.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Addressing Rochester Rotarians on Tuesday, University of Rochester President Joel Seligman said that  K-12 education is in crisis.

Seligman says graduation rates in inner cities across the country are tragically low, and that the achievement gap costs the U.S. billions of dollars a year. Just as importantly, he says, failed opportunities follow a student forever.                       

"Every student who doesn't graduate, potentially, is losing the opportunity for a rewarding and full life."

Rochester School Superintendent Bolgen Vargas says he is encouraged by the aid levels contained in the new state budget.

The details of the state's overall $1.4 billion increase in education funding were just released Tuesday.

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle says the Rochester city school district will receive $543 million in state aid in the  upcoming school year, a $32 million increase over the previous year.

Officials with the Blackfriars Theatre in Rochester say that after 35 years as Artistic Director, John Haldoupis will retire at the end of the season on June 30. His position will be filled by Associate Artistic Director Danny Hoskins, who will be Artistic and Managing Director as of July 1.

Hoskins is an actor, director, educator and playwright.

On Tuesday, the 65-year old theater company also unveiled the plays for the 2015-2016 season:

A FEW GOOD MEN: Sept. 4 – 26, 2015 by Aaron Sorkin / Directed by Danny Hoskins

The Rochester area unemployment rate fell in February. Officials say it's part of a positive trend.

The unemployment rate for the Rochester metro in February was six percent, down from 6.9 percent at this time last year. State Labor Analyst Tammy Marino says this area has seen steady growth in the job market over the last several years.

"Unemployment rate's still slightly elevated from where we were before the recession, but again it is the lowest level for the month of February since before the onset of the recession."

A first-of-its-kind study shows that achieving the goal of an 80% screening rate for people age 50 and older by 2018 would have a substantial impact against colorectal cancer – the third leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the U.S. We're looking at colon cancer and answering our listeners' questions with our guests:

  • Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, gastroenterologist for Rochester Regional Health System
  • Jason Coleman, American Cancer Society
  • Dr. Alvaro Carrascal, Vice President of Health Systems in New York and New Jersey for the American Cancer Society

State English and math tests in grades 3-8 are coming in the next several weeks, and school districts across the state have debated how to handle them. Some districts are supplying parents with a ready-made form to opt their children out of the tests, if they choose to do so. But Brighton superintendent Kevin McGowan sent parents a different kind of letter. His letter indicated that tests can be helpful ways to compare student progress, and the tests should be taken as an opportunity for students to "tackle tasks that may be challenging" and to "show others their personal best." 

Reaction continues to the Indiana law which prohibits state laws that ``substantially burden'' a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.

This as Indiana's governor is calling for legislation on his desk this week that will clarify that the new law does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Executive Director of the Gay Alliance, Scott Fearing, says there are similar measures in other states, but experts consider this law to be the most dangerous for the LGBT community.

Matthew Nafus,  a reserve Colonel in the Marine Corps and a former Assistant District Attorney is announcing that he's a candidate for State Supreme Court in the 7th Judicial District.

Nafus is currently in private practice in Scottsville. The Democrat worked as an assistant D-A in Monroe County from 1997 to 2006.

He is also an Iraq War Veteran and his service includes being a legal advisor to the commanding general in 2011 during a NATO campaign to remove Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Nafus began his legal career as a Judge Advocate in the Marine Corps.