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 — The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the boardroom on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. The meeting will be a workshop meeting, at which the board will discuss items on the agenda but not take any formal action. The board will discuss school board committees and hear reports on the recent Minnesota School Boards Association conference. A report about a school culture effort is also on the agenda.
WILLMAR — Brickwork is set to begin on the physical education addition at Willmar Senior High School. The skeleton of Willmar Public Schools' new elementary school continues to take shape. This week, the new science rooms at Willmar Middle School will open with the beginning of a new term. All the work is part of the $52.35 million building program approved by the district's voters in May 2015. It includes the new school, two additions and numerous remodeling and maintenance projects.
WILLMAR — U.S. Sen. Al Franken has once again placed Willmar in a national spotlight, this time during his questioning of attorney general-designate Jeff Sessions in a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting this week. Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, is President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general.
WILLMAR — The first Willmar School Board meeting of the year included a welcome from the district's teachers' union. The board and Education Minnesota-Willmar are still negotiating the 2015-17 contract, though representatives of both sides are working together to find a resolution. At Monday's meeting, union president Tammy Knapper thanked the board members on behalf of the union membership for their efforts on behalf of the students and community. The union looks forward to working with the board and the students toward a stronger community, Knapper said.
WILLMAR — The potential for a conflict of interest for a newly elected board member was under discussion at the first Willmar School Board meeting of the year. After electing officers and taking care of other annual business Monday, the board addressed questions raised by people in the community about board member Tammy Barnes, who works as a field representative for the Education Minnesota union. The union represents the bargaining unit for Willmar's teachers.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the boardroom on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. The board will first meet to elect officers for 2017 and welcome new board members Tammy Barnes and Scott Thaden. During its regular meeting the board will address questions raised by the public about whether Barnes has a conflict of interest, because she is an employee of Education Minnesota, the union which represents Willmar's teacher union. Barnes does not work with the Willmar union.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will begin 2017 with two new board members and a new leader. Chairwoman Liz VanDerBill is retiring from the board after serving a four-year term, two years as chair. VanDerBill said she decided to step down for family reasons. When she was first elected, her daughter Abby was in kindergarten, and now she's a busy fourth-grader. As she becomes busier and involved in more activities, VanDerBill said, she finds herself pulled in many directions. Serving on the board "takes up a lot of time I should be spending with her," she said.
WILLMAR — After Jan. 7, the six-week frenzy will begin for the Willmar FIRST Robotics team. The team of more than 20 Willmar Senior High School students, along with 3,200 other FIRST teams, will receive the assignment for their competition robot. The teams will also receive a kit of parts they can use to build their robots. Teams will have six weeks to design, build and test the robot before they take it to competition — a chance to handle real-world engineering problems.
WILLMAR – The Willmar School Board and the school district’s teachers may have found a path to a tentative agreement on long-running contract negotiations. The board and Education Minnesota-Willmar have been negotiating since April 2015. The previous two-year contract expired June 30, 2015, and the teachers have been working under the old contract since then. The two sides have signed tentative agreements on language issues but have been unable to agree on salaries.
WILLMAR — In an effort to clarify how a contract provision is interpreted, the Willmar School Board has denied a teacher grievance so it can move on to arbitration. The board voted at its meeting last week to deny teacher Robert Flegel's grievance that he was underpaid for teaching an extra course for the first semester of the school year. Flegel, a science teacher at Willmar Senior High School, claimed in the grievance that the district had underpaid him about $700 for four days the teaching staff was on duty but did not have student contact.