I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR—Willmar's teachers and the school district may have taken a step toward resolving a two-year labor contract that expired nearly 15 months ago. Negotiators for the the Willmar School Board and Education Minnesota-Willmar met Wednesday to compare the formulas they have been using to calculate the overall dollar value of their proposals. Most language issues have been resolved, but there has been no agreement on salaries.
WILLMAR—The Willmar School Board has approved about $13.3 million in contracts for the district's new elementary school. At a special meeting Thursday morning, board members approved 30 different contracts for the third phase of bidding on the project. Work started in the spring at the site along Lakeland Drive Southeast east of the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA. Site preparation and underground utilities are finished. Footings were poured this week. The fourth bidding phase will be for playground equipment and asphalt.
WILLMAR—Bids on the third phase of construction on Willmar's new elementary school were opened Tuesday afternoon. The Willmar School Board will meet at 7:30 a.m. Thursday to award the contracts, contingent on a full audit of the bids by the construction manager hired by the board. Stephen Plantenberg, senior project manager with R.A. Morton Construction Managers of St. Cloud, read the bid amounts for more than 30 different aspects of the project.
WILLMAR—School property taxes in 2017 are expected to increase 13 percent in the Willmar School District. The Willmar School Board adopted a preliminary property tax levy at its Monday meeting. A final levy will be adopted in December after a Truth in Taxation hearing at 6 p.m. Dec. 12. Local property taxes are a combination of school, county and city or township tax levies.
WILLMAR—The first week of school is a busy one for teachers and students alike. New shoes, new clothes, new teachers, names to learn—and then there's the rules, always plenty of rules. Without them, it would be difficult to keep a school running smoothly. That's especially true in Willmar, where its two elementary schools are among the largest in the state. A new elementary school opening in a year will ease the situation.
WILLMAR—A year of planning is leading the Oct. 1 merger of social service agencies in west central and southwestern Minnesota. Heartland Community Action Agency, based in Willmar, and Western Community Action Agency, based in Marshall, will become United Community Action Partnership.
WILLMAR—About 4,000 kids will be streaming into Willmar's public schools today. They will be greeted by 700 adults who are ready and willing to make a difference in their lives. In welcoming Willmar Public Schools staff back Thursday for another school year, Superintendent Jeff Holm asked them to help spread the word about the "amazing things happening in our schools." After more than 100 school visits last year, he saw those amazing things, Holm said. "I see people in all job areas doing great work for kids, and I thank you and applaud you for that."
WILLMAR—Willmar Middle School has gone through a behind-the-scenes update, but students may not notice most of it when they come back to school Tuesday. They may not realize why the air seems fresher, and that the building is safer than it was when they left last spring. They will certainly notice the expansion to the cafeteria. And they'll likely hear some of the work going on in the new science rooms that will open mid-year.
WILLMAR—Parents and kids will have a new morning routine this fall at Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar, but it should be somewhat familiar. When school starts on Sept. 6, buses and cars will follow the same procedures in the morning that they have followed in the afternoon for some time. Adult crossing guards are gone, part of last spring's budget cuts. A Safety Patrol of fifth-graders, the oldest students in the K-5 school, has been trained to guide other students. The school is also installing flashing signs to warn drivers to slow down and be ready to stop.
WILLMAR—Fran Gonzalez had spent the last two days cooking in anticipation of her son's return home from Kuwait. E4 Specialist Jose Martin Gonzalez Jr. was among more than 150 members of the 682nd Engineer Battalion who returned to Willmar Saturday afternoon. Members of the unit had left Willmar in early October 2015. Yellow ribbons around trees and signposts greeted visitors on the drive up to Willmar Senior High School Saturday.