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State Lawmaker: Smaller DeKalb School Board

By Sandra Parrish
WSB State Capitol Reporter

(WSB Radio State Capitol Bureau) -- A DeKalb County state lawmaker wants to reduce the size of the county's school board in light of problems that could affect the school systems accreditation.

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) is sponsoring HB 22 that would allow DeKalb voters to choose between five, seven, and nine board members.  Currently the Dekalb school board has nine members.

"We need to examine closely whether or not a smaller school board will help in the governance issues for the Dekalb school board," she tells WSB's Sandra Parrish.

Oliver sites research done by School Superintendent Bray Bryant that seven is the optimal number of school board members.

"The research shows that they are able to form a more collaborative , more cooperative relationship with fewer numbers of board members," she says.

Voters would decide the matter in the November election.

The bill would have to be approved first by the members of the DeKalb County legislative delegation before being approved by the entire Legislature.

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News

  • Do you like your tea served piping hot? Beware— you could be doubling your cancer risk, according to a new report.  >> Read more trending news  Researchers from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran recently conducted a study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, to determine the association between drinking hot tea and esophageal cancer. To do so, they examined more than 50,000 people, aged 40-75, in Golestan, a province in northeastern Iran. They followed the participants for 10 years, tracking the temperature of the tea they drank as well as their overall health. During the follow-up, 317 new cases of esophageal cancer were identified.  Furthermore, they found those who drank tea warmer than 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit and consumed more than 700 ml of tea daily were 90 percent more likely to develop esophageal cancer, compared to those who drank less tea and at temperatures below 60 degrees Celsius. >> Related: Drinking this type of tea could ruin your teeth, study says “Many people enjoy drinking tea, coffee, or other hot beverages. However, according to our report, drinking very hot tea can increase the risk of esophageal cancer, and it is therefore advisable to wait until hot beverages cool down before drinking,” lead author Farhad Islam said in a statement. Tea is rarely consumed at temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius in the United States or Europe. However, in places like Iran, Russia, Turkey and South America, it’s more common to serve tea at that temperature or hotter, Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the USA, told CNN last year. The scientists do not know why drinking hot tea is linked with esophageal cancer, but this isn’t the first study of its kind.  A 2018 study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that consuming “hot” or “burning hot” tea is linked with a two- to five-fold rise in esophageal cancer, but only among individuals who also smoke or drink alcohol. >> Related: Black tea helps you lose weight with gut bacteria, study says The analysts from that evaluation believe hot beverages may damage the tissue lining the esophagus, which could increase the risk of cancer from other factors, such as repeated irritation of the esophagus and the formation of inflammatory compounds.
  • The American Kennel Club's annual ranking of the most popular dog breeds found that the Labrador retriever once again is the nation's top dog for the 28th year in a row. >> Read more trending news The AKC released its 2018 rankings on Wednesday. After Labs, the top five breeds nationwide are German shepherds, golden retrievers, French bulldogs and bulldogs. Rounding out the top 10 are beagles, poodles, Rottweilers, German shorthaired pointers and Yorkshire terriers. All held their same positions on the top 10 with the exception of that German shorthaired pointer and Yorkshire terrier swapping the ninth and 10th position. Labs have been on top since 1991 when they unseated Cocker Spaniels from the number one slot and their reign is the longest of any breed since the AKC began the popularity ranking in the 1880s. At No. 9, the German shorthaired pointer notched its highest ranking since getting AKC recognition in 1930. These strikingly speckled hunting dogs are also versatile — some work as drug- and bomb-detectors — and active companions. “I think people are learning about how fun the breed is,” AKC spokeswoman Brandi Hunter said. The listings come from 2018 AKC registration data, and do not include mixed breeds. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Wildlife officials in New Mexico are warning hikers and other visitors about a potential danger on a trail in the Sandria Mountains east of Albuquerque: mountain lions. >> Read more trending news  Although the chances of actually encountering a mountain lion are low, officials have fielded numerous calls recently over sightings of the big cat on the La Luz Trail, according to KOB-TV. Forest workers want people to take precautions, especially around dawn and dusk when jogging and running can trigger the big cats’ instincts to chase and attack. “We do not want to discourage people from visiting the forest,” wildlife biologist Esther Nelson told KOB, “but we do want to make people aware and offer some precautionary measures to keep visitors and their pets safe.” A few other tips include keeping children and pets close at all times and don’t hike alone. Although mountain lions are usually quiet and elusive animals, the National Park Service offers recommendations in case of an encounter. If you see a lion, stay calm, don’t approach it, don’t run from it, and don’t crouch down or bend over. >> Related: Jogger kills attacking mountain lion with bare hands If a mountain lion moves toward you or acts aggressively, do everything you can to appear intimidating. Speak in a loud voice and try and appear larger. If that doesn’t work, park officials suggest throwing stones or branches at the cat to try and scare it off. If it does attack, fight back however you can. Also don’t forget to report any attack to a forest ranger.    
  • A Wisconsin woman was arrested for handing out marijuana cookies at a St. Patrick’s Day parade, police said. >> Read more trending news  Cathleen Krause, 57, has been charged with delivering THC, possession of THC and three counts of possession of a controlled substance, WBAY-TV reported. A witness told sheriff’s deputies that while she was attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, a woman dressed in a leather coat and green hat gave her a cookie with marijuana in it, according to a Shawano County Sheriff's Office arrest affidavit. The witness turned the cookie over to the deputies. The deputies later tracked down Krause, who was 'visibly intoxicated' and smelled of alcohol and marijuana, according to the affidavit. When asked about the cookies, Krause pulled out a gallon-sized bag that contained cookie crumbs, WBAY-TV reported. The deputies then searched her and found a container with pills and some gummy candies, the news station reported. The Sheriff’s Office said the cookie and the gummies tested positive for marijuana. Krause appeared in court on March 18. As a condition of the $1,000 bond, she must remain sober, according to court records.
  • A New Orleans woman is accused of overdosing her 4-year-old daughter and herself on narcotic pain medication in an attempted murder-suicide, and her family claims she tried multiple times in vain to get mental health care before the incident.  Debbie P. Johnson, 41, is charged with attempted murder in the incident, according to Orleans Parish Jail records. She is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond.  Court documents obtained by NOLA.com allege that Johnson was arguing with family members March 10 about the living arrangements at their home. At some point after the argument, she walked into a relative’s bedroom and said she and her daughter had taken several hydrocodone pills.  She said “she was killing herself and taking her 4-year-old daughter with her,” the court documents allege.  >> Read more trending news A relative called 911, and both Johnson and her daughter were taken to a hospital for treatment. According to WDSU in New Orleans, Johnson swallowed six of the pills and she forced her daughter to take four pills. Police officers wrote in the arrest warrant that Johnson’s daughter told detectives her mother “told her she was going to die with her and gave her some nasty stuff to take,” NOLA.com reported. The pills were not enough to kill the girl, but investigators allege that was Johnson’s intent, WDSU said.  “The child cried (in the hospital) and stated she did not want to die,” the arrest warrant says.   If released from jail, Johnson has been ordered to stay away from the girl, court records show. Johnson’s mother told WDSU her daughter has tried in vain since the beginning of the year to get treatment for severe depression. She was denied treatment at two different facilities because of a lack of an opening, the news station said.  “I asked them that she wanted to have psych treatment, and they said that they didn’t have any beds,” said Johnson’s mother, who asked not to be shown on camera or identified.  “She knew she was suffering from depression and tried to get help?” the reporter asked.  “She was,” her mother responded.  Johnson’s mother said it wasn’t her daughter trying to kill her granddaughter. “That wasn’t her that was doing that, that night. It wasn’t her,” the woman said. “She loved her more than she loved herself.” The mother and grandmother said she hopes her daughter can get help while she is being held in jail, WDSU reported.  If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. Both provide free, 24/7 confidential support to people in distress and provide them, or their loved ones, with support, information and local resources.
  • A new $15 million lawsuit alleges a 7-year-old girl with autism was beaten and sexually assaulted by two boys inside the play facility of an Oregon McDonald’s. >> Read more trending news  According to the lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, the assault happened March 4 at a McDonald’s in Albany, a city about 70 miles south of Portland. The girl was in an area of the play structure that wasn’t visible to her mother, who was sitting nearby, the girl’s mother told The Oregonian/Oregon Live. The mother said she heard her daughter screaming, and rushed to find two boys beating her daughter on the second floor of the play structure. She said both of the boys looked to be about 5 years old. “Her nose was bleeding,” she said. 'She was screaming. I had to pull him off of her, and I just kept screaming, ‘Whose child is this?’ It was so loud in there, no one heard me at first. And then finally the parents came running.” The girl said the boys also inappropriately touched her, the mother said. Michael Fuller, an attorney representing the family, said the girl also alleged that the boys stomped on her nose. Fuller said the girl’s mother reported the incident to police and the Oregon Department of Human Services. The girl is receiving psychiatric care, her mother said. The family is suing McDonald's for negligence, saying there should be no part of the play structure where adults cannot see or access children who are inside, KPTV-TV reported. The lawsuit also requests a jury trial.