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School Board paves way for election

WILLMAR -- Three seats will be open when filing opens for Willmar School Board on Aug. 3.

All three incumbents whose terms are expiring announced earlier that they would not seek re-election.

The Willmar School Board adopted resolutions this week to pave the way for board elections this fall.

Filing for all school board and small city races will be open from Aug. 3 to Aug. 17. The general election is Nov. 2.

Board members Dion Warne, Brad Schmidt and Mike Carlson have each spent nine years on the School Board.

In June, they said they were leaving the board to pursue other interests in the community and spend more time with their families. They also said they thought the board could benefit from a fresh perspective.

Candidates who are interested in running for the school board may file at the school district offices during business hours from Aug. 3 to Aug. 17. Filing closes at 4 p.m. Aug. 17. Filing fee is $2. District offices are at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W., near downtown Willmar.

In other business at this week's board meeting, Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard gave the board an update on meetings between school officials across west central Minnesota. Kjergaard started the meetings several months ago by inviting other superintendents to meet. They have been discussing possible ways they can work together to maintain quality public education.

The group recently received a grant, which will be used to hire a facilitator to help steer discussions. Kjergaard has been chairing the meetings. "Since we're the largest district, it's important I get out of that," he said.

The group plans to have fall meetings with school board members, administrators and parents, he said, "to get a sense of where we want to go with education in west central Minnesota."

Kjergaard said the main group is too large to develop one plan for everyone, but he hopes some of the districts can build working relationships that will benefit their students.

The board also approved several labor agreements for bargaining units and administrators.

In general the agreements include contract language adjustments and a combined salary and benefit increase of 1.5 percent. In some cases, the 1.5 percent increase will go almost entirely to benefits, said Bill Busta, the district's human resource manager.

The board approved roofing projects for Kennedy Elementary School and the Middle School. Both contracts were awarded to low bidder Horizon Roofing of Waite Park. The total cost is expected to be $254,845 for Kennedy and $161,518 for the Middle School.

Kjergaard said work is to begin this week on a new entrance road and bus loading area north of Roosevelt Elementary School. The road is scheduled to be finished before school starts in September.

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