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Willmar School District adding teachers with one-year, $920K federal payout

WILLMAR -- With the $920,000 it gets in one-time help from the federal government, Willmar's schools will be providing assistance for struggling kids and reducing class sizes.

Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard gave the School Board a rundown Monday of his plans for the money.

Also at the meeting, the board approved a three-year contract extension for Kjergaard.

He has just started the third year of his first contract with the district.

The contract extension for Kjergaard will begin in fall 2011 and cover the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

Board member Mike Reynolds said the board's Labor/Management Committee met with Kjergaard after he expressed an interest in extending his contract.

Benefits were adjusted to be in line with other administrators, and the contract includes no raise in the first year, a 1 percent raise in the second year and a 2 percent raise in the first year. Kjergaard's salary is $147,500 for this school year and the next, $148,975 in 2012-13 and $151,925 in 2013-2014.

The $920,000 for Willmar is part of a one-year funding package approved by Congress in August to save jobs in education.

Kjergaard said administrators in the district have been meeting to decide how to spend the money. He said the intent of the law is to use it this year to hire educators and help kids.

"We're spending a lot of time and money to get teachers in front of kids," he said.

Several elementary teachers were hired to keep classes from growing too big. He said the district will also be adding social studies, science and English Language Learner teachers.

Most of the money will be spent on teachers, he said, but some will also be used for academic coaches to work with kids who are struggling in math, science and English.

The district's two elementary schools, middle school and high school will all have new personnel this year because of the law, he said.

All of the instructors will be hired with the understanding that they have one-year positions, Kjergaard said.

The federal money also comes with new paperwork requirements. Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington said the district will need to report its actual expenses to be reimbursed for them.

Harrington said she plans to submit monthly reports, to help maintain the district's cash flow.

Employees hired under the federal program will need to file paperwork about their employment, too.

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

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