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Willmar, Minn., seeking part-time workers to help kids with math, reading

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WILLMAR - Willmar Public Schools are looking for paraprofessionals to work with elementary children in the coming school year, which begins Sept. 3.

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And the roofing system on the Willmar Senior High building is again causing headaches, judging from discussions at Monday's Willmar School Board meeting.

About 15 positions are currently available for the part-time school year jobs. People who are hired would spend about four hours a day working with students learning reading and math.

People in those positions, called interventionists, would be part of the district's ongoing efforts to revitalize their elementary schools.

Both schools were judged by the state a year ago to have some of the larger achievement gaps in the state, and both were required to develop turnaround plans to improve their scores.

State test scores for the last school year have not yet been released to the public.

Interventionists work with small groups of children under the direction of their classroom teachers. The goal is that the small group instruction will help students who are struggling with reading or math.

Human Resources Director Liz Fisher said the district might not have a full staff of interventionists when school starts.

Asked by School Board members what the district will do then, Fischer said she would "keep searching for more."

For information about job openings, go to www.willmar.k12.mn.us and click on Career Opportunities.

The School Board voted to raise the pay for certified and non-certified substitute employees.

Fischer said the non-certified substitute hourly rate of $8.50 was last adjusted in 2008. The board approved an increase to $10 an hour.

Since some employees would now be making less than their substitutes, the board approved raising their pay to $10.20 an hour

For certified substitute teachers, the rate was increased from $95 to $105 per day. That salary had last been adjusted in 2005.

The total cost of the raises is estimated to be about $58,000 for the coming school year.

The roofing system at the Senior High building, which opened in 1994, has been a costly problem for the school district.

In 2004, a facility study revealed that the building's roof and wall drainage system had not been built according to the design and was allowing water to run into the walls in certain types of storms.

A reroofing project on a portion of the school planned for this summer has now been put off because of problems found with wet insulation and corrosion above the swimming pool area.

Engineer Brian Bollig said what was thought to be a routine project became more complicated with what was found when the roof area was opened up. Above the pool, the roof is made of concrete beams, but an adjacent mechanical room has a corrugated metal roof.

A vapor barrier and insulation had been installed both types of roofing, leading to wet insulation and to corrosion of the metal roof.

"It's not typical to have these roofs joined under one roof system," Bollig said. The different types of roof need different types of roofing systems, he added.

Bollig recommended terminating a contract with the contractor hired to do the work this summer for $85,000. The district will need to redesign the job and bid it again for next summer. The new estimate for the work is about $300,000.

Board members had questions about why the problems weren't found before advertising for bids. "Shouldn't we have been able to tell before," asked Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard.

"We didn't know at the beginning there were these compounding issues," Bollig answered.

Board member Linda Mathiasen commented that this was only the first, fairly small section of a large roof. She asked if similar problems would be found elsewhere. Bollig said there are similar roofing materials on the rest of the building, but no part of the building has the added challenge of the pool area's humidity.

Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington told the board that the building's roof was likely to be an issue for a while, as the entire roof is nearly 20 years old and will need maintenance work in the coming years.

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Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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