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 has voted to lay off 52 non-tenured teachers and reduce the hours of one tenured teacher. The layoffs represent the equivalent of 45 full-time jobs in the school district, many of them paid for with federal funding which is no longer available.
WILLMAR -- An online survey about school cooperation is waiting for the residents of 17 school districts in central and west central Minnesota. The survey will gauge people's views on curriculum, teacher evaluation, staff training and shared services. The survey is open to anyone and is not limited to people with a connection to the schools. School leaders from an area stretching from Ortonville to Lester Prairie have been meeting since last summer to discuss the future of education in the area.
Thousands of people have taken advantage of programs of the Willmar Community Education and Recreation Department during the past year. The department, a joint venture of the Willmar School District and the city of Willmar, provides a wide range of educational and recreational activities, director Steve Brisendine said. Brisendine presented an annual report to the Willmar School Board this week and plans to present a similar report to the city soon. The program's budget includes $2.2 million in expenses for the school district and $1.3 million for the city.
WILLMAR -- Participation in sports and other activities has been strong in Willmar's schools, even with a higher fee structure in place this year. If voters allow an operating levy to expire at the end of the year, those fees could go even higher. The district's attempt to renew and increase the operating levy was turned back by the voters in 2010.
WILLMAR -- The psychology of Batman and the Joker was up for discussion last week at Willmar Senior High. Eighty students, mostly seniors, signed on this term for the class co-taught by communications teacher Amy Grussing and social studies teacher Lyle Hovland.
Students and parents who want to practice on MCA III sample problems can go to the website www.perspectiveforfamilies.com . Choose Minnesota on the home page, and then choose the student's grade on the Minnesota home page. Students should have an ID number they can use to sign in, or they can browse the library, too. The Willmar Public Library has tutors available from 6 to 8 p.m.
The State Department of Education uses great care to develop the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. Danith Clausen, Willmar's director of curriculum and instruction, said the tests are written by groups of teachers recruited by the SDE from across the state. They start with the state standards and then they write the test specifications, deciding what standards will be included in the test.
Take a look at the state's sample math test for eighth-graders, chock full of algebra problems, and, depending on your memory and your age, you may think: Wow, I've forgotten a lot. Umm, what does that word mean? Did I ever learn this in the first place? Wait, this is for eighth-graders? Yes, it's for eighth graders, and Willmar school officials were as surprised as anyone when the sample test was posted on the Minnesota Department of Education website at the end of 2010. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard's reaction? "I thought I wasn't smart enough," he said.
WILLMAR -- Asked what advice he would give to job hunters who have been out of work for a long time, U.S. Sen.
WILLMAR - Renewable energy could be the driving force behind economic growth in rural Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Al Franken said Wednesday. Franken toured some local energy projects in Willmar after spending a day and a half in Morris on a similar tour.