Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for Monday

1. There was an epic error at the Academy Awards.

Moonlight won the Best Picture Oscar tonight after an epic mix-up on the stage in which presenter Faye Dunaway, onstage with Warren Beatty, read what turned out to be the wrong winner. She originally announced that La La Land won, to walk away with its seventh win of the night from its record-tying 14 nominations, and La La Land‘s producers even gave acceptance speeches before the mistake was discovered, and chaos ensued for the last and most marquee category of the night as reality set in that the wrong film was announced.

2. Newly elected Democratic national chairman Tom Perez pledges to unite a fractured party

He says he plans to rebuild at all levels from "school board to the Senate" and reach out to chunks of rural America left feeling forgotten in the 2016 election.

Speaking in television interviews, Perez indicated that an important first step was joining with vanquished rival Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, who agreed at Perez's invitation to serve as the Democratic National Committee's deputy chairman. Perez said the two would work hard to put out an affirmative party message while opposing President Donald Trump's policies, adding that he and Ellison were already getting a "good kick" that Trump was stirred to tweet that the DNC election was "rigged."

Perez said, "We lead with our values and we lead with our actions.” He also described a party focus that will emphasize protecting Social Security, Medicare and "growing good jobs in this economy."

3. Kurt Busch won the Dayton 500 yesterday

The driver of the No. 41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing got his first Daytona 500 win in 17 tries, weaving his way to the lead in a wild finish that saw pole-sitter Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson run out of gas.

"The unpredictable it becomes at Daytona, the more predictable it becomes in its unpredictability," Busch opined in victory lane.

4. Actor Bill Paxton passed away at the age of 61

He starred in blockbusters like "Apollo 13" and "Titanic,” and also the HBO series “Big Love.”

A family representative said in a statement, “it is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery. A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”

Nearly 200 storm chasers paid tribute Sunday to the late actor by spelling out his initials using GPS coordinates on a map depicting the heart of Tornado Alley. The effort was to honor the leading man in the disaster movie "Twister," which inspired a generation of storm chasers.

5. If a new bill introduced in the state House this week eventually becomes law, students might not get out of learning on future snow days.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski said his district has four to five snow days per year. Under his bill, electronic-learning days would count as actual days of instruction on the school calendar.

Instead of just sitting at home, students would work from home, communicating with teachers online or on the phone. The plan would include accommodations for those without internet or digital device access.

"It would allow schools to use up to five e-learning days, or five snow days as e-learning days, anytime throughout the year at the discretion of the school board," Drazkowski said.

At least two metro school districts have tried out e-learning days recently.

Farmington schools used one at the end of January when an ice storm canceled classes.

And Minnehaha Academy did two weeks ago when a building was closed because of an illness outbreak.

"It provides flexibility, safety and continued learning for the kids," Drazkowski said. "And, you know, it's innovative."

 

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