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State Senators Approve Teacher Bill & Nightly Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The Texas Senate has approved legislation meant to improve evaluation of the state's public school teachers and develop methods to help them succeed in the classroom.

Republican Sen. Florence Shapiro touts her bill as a bipartisan effort to keep effective teachers while helping them improve.

The bill approved Thursday would require teacher appraisals based on observation, student performance and other measures. Schools would have to provide timely feedback and offer opportunities for teachers to reach established goals. Supporters say such measures would help teachers know their strengths and gather practical methods for improving on weaknesses.

Some teacher groups have concerns about the bill they say have yet to be addressed.

Dallas Victim of Tuscaloosa Tornado

A graduate of Ursuline Academy in Dallas is among the victims of the Tuscaloosa tornado.

In an email, the school's principal notified staff and faculty of the death of Ashley Harrison, Ursuline class of '07.

Frisco Battery Plan To Lower Emissions

Exide Technologies in Frisco says it will invest 20 million dollars to reduce lead emissions from its battery recycling plant by 90%.

State Senator Florence Shapiro says that would exceed state and federal environmental guidelines and improve the quality of life for Frisco residents.

The Exide smelter is near Frisco's downtown, plus homes and schools. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency put the city on notice that the area is in violation of stricter federal pollution rules.

Senator Shapiro says the 90% reduction in lead emissions will be included in the state's "clean air" implementation plan. That means the lower levels can be enforced by state and federal regulators.

New Low-Cost Carrier To Serve DFW Airport

Friday, Spirit Airlines kicks off a week of events in North Texas to celebrate new service at DFW Airport. Non-stop flights from DFW to Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas begin Thursday, May 5th.

Spirit becomes the sixth low-cost carrier at DFW. Airport CEO Jeff Fegan says it's good for customers and the North Texas economy. He says Spirit's new flights will have a 120 million dollar annual impact.

Dallas County Jail Inspection Results Due

The Dallas County Jail gets its annual report card Friday.

Inspectors with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards have been at the jail this week, doing their annual inspection. Last year was the first time the jail passed inspection since 2003.

County Commissioners spent about 200 million dollars upgrading fire protection systems, sanitation, maintenance and medical care in the jail which averages about six thousand prisoners daily.

Commissioners and the Sheriff hold a briefing with the Jail Standards Commission Friday morning at 9:30.

N TX Real Estate Scammers Headed To Prison

A certified real estate appraiser, Rejis Lamont Williams, is going to federal prison for nearly four years for his role in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme that operated in North Texas.

Williams is among seven people already sentenced to prison in the scam that investigators say was run by Eric Farrington - an Irving motivational speaker who once had a real estate infomercial.

Farrington is the ex-husband of Sheila Farrington Hill, convicted in the Dallas City Hall Corruption case. He is to be sentenced June 2nd.

Fort Worth State Senator Aims At Gas Drillers

Two bills that tighten-up on drillers in the Barnett Shale are making progress in the Legislature.

A bill by Fort Worth Senator Wendy Davis passed the Senate yesterday. It raises the fines for drilling violations from ten thousand to 25 thousand dollars a day.

A senate "committee" has passed Davis' bill requiring wastewater used in the "fracking" process be disposed-of in wells that are five to nine thousand feet below ground.

Senator Davis says this will help protect ground water from contamination.