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 — A massive effort by the staff at Willmar Middle School drastically reduced late or missing homework assignments in the past school year. Assistant Principal Beckie Simenson and staff members from the school provided an update on the ICU program for the Willmar School Board recently. The ICU is a database that tracks homework assignments for all students and provides assistance for students who are having trouble finishing their work. The staff started studying the ICU idea a couple years ago, Simenson said, and it went into full effect last fall.
WILLMAR — A dispute over contract language governing the time of part-time teachers has apparently derailed everything else accomplished in contract negotiations between the Willmar School Board and its teachers. Education Minnesota Willmar and the district’s negotiating team have met 20 times and had two mediation sessions.
WILLMAR — The Willmar Public Schools are still financially strong, but recent efforts to improve instruction are affecting its general fund reserves. Projections indicate that the district could see its unassigned fund balance begin to shrink in the next year. The Willmar School Board adopted a budget for the 2014-15 school year at its meeting this week. Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington explained the budget and how recent law changes have affected it. The budget includes projected revenue of $47 million in the general fund and nearly $50 million in expenditures.
WILLMAR — The old saying, “I could beat you with one hand tied behind my back,” took on new meaning Monday morning. The Willmar Stingers players each tucked one arm into their jerseys for a couple innings, and some of them even played blindfolded, but they still won the annual kickball game with Roosevelt Elementary teachers on a score of 7-5. The last-day-of-school tradition began several years ago.
WILLMAR — It could be early next year before Willmar School District voters get a chance to pass judgment on a facilities improvement plan. The Willmar School Board met Monday to continue its study of how to best meet the district’s facility needs for the next decade. Board members said during the meeting that they won’t be seeking a vote on the plan in the November election. The board is developing a plan to add a fifth-grade wing to Willmar Middle School and to add new science classrooms for grades 6-8 there. The lunch room would also be expanded.
Kristen Egge can tell in September whether her students were engaged in academic activities during their summer break. “Kids need to read and write and do a little bit of math every day,” said Egge, a fifth-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar. The Willmar Public Library can help kids stay on track with its animal-themed summer program called “Paws to Read.” Children’s librarian Kathy Torkelson described a number of special events that will revolve around animals and books. The U.S.
WILLMAR — State Sen. Torrey Westrom said he believes he sees a mess in Washington, and he wants to help clean it up as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. After 18 years in the Minnesota Legislature, Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, has embarked on a campaign to defeat incumbent Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in the November election. Peterson, ranking member of the House Committee on Agriculture, was first elected to Congress in 1990. Westrom, 41, was first elected to the Legislature at the age of 23.
WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA is celebrating the grand opening of its expansion this week with a ribbon cutting Wednesday morning. Executive Director Theresa Wittenberg said the staff is excited to introduce the community to its expanded facility. After a ribbon cutting at 8 a.m.
WILLMAR — As in years past, a large majority of Willmar’s graduating seniors intend to continue their educations at 2- or 4-year colleges. In all, 86 percent of the students graduating from Willmar Senior High this weekend plan to attend a post-secondary educational institution. More than a third of the class will stay close to home by attending Ridgewater College in the fall. Students filled out a questionnaire about their post-graduation plans in May.
WILLMAR — Jose Noe Carreno will graduate this week with high honors from Willmar Senior High School. While that’s no small accomplishment for any teenager, Carreno’s path to graduation has had its share of twists and turns. He’s grown from a frightened boy watching immigration agents shackle his mother to an 18-year-old high school student who has kept his grades up while working nearly full-time.