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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A $14.3 million improvement project for Ridgewater College's Willmar campus was not included in the bonding bill passed in this week's special session of the Legislature. The money would have let the college finish a remodeling, demolition and construction project that has been in the works for several years. The state provided funding for the first phase of the project. "It's disappointing to me," Ridgewater President Douglas Allen said Wednesday afternoon.
WILLMAR -- Wednesday was a good news/bad news sort of day for public education in Minnesota. There's disappointment in the state's decision to delay paying state aid to the public schools that are dependent on it.
WILLMAR -- A wet summer has been getting in the way of work and play in Kandiyohi County. High water and wet conditions have slowed some road and bridge projects as much as a lack of state inspectors has. County parks are still open for camping and recreation, but a series of heavy rains recently has led to a variety of frustrations for managers and campers. After four inches of rain Thursday night and Friday morning, the park and campground at County Park 7 on Games Lake were swamped. Shoreline erosion on Big Kandiyohi Lake is getting worse as water levels stay high. An underpass allowin
WILLMAR -- In the first two weeks of the state government shutdown, child care providers in Kandiyohi County missed receiving about $50,000 in subsidies for caring for the children of low-income working parents. County Family Services Director Jay Kieft said the shutdown's impact on those families is difficult to gauge. He talked about the impact of the shutdown and "how we've weathered the storm to date" at Tuesday's Kandiyohi County Board meeting in Willmar. A court declared child care subsidies a critical service of state government last week, and the money is once again being paid.
GRANITE FALLS -- Work is nearly finished on a $10 million project to improve ventilation systems at Yellow Medicine East School District buildings in Granite Falls. However, if state inspectors are not available to inspect the work that's been done since June, the district could face a delay in cleaning and moving furniture back into classrooms. Superintendent Alan Stoeckman said the district is about to wrap up its second year of work on the project. When he was interviewed on Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton had just announced a new compromise offer to Republican legislative leaders.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District will definitely ask voters this fall to replace a $498.49-per-pupil operating levy that expires at the end of the year. What's not clear yet is if the School Board will ask voters for more money. Board members said they hope to hear from the public about the levy in the next few weeks so that they can make final decisions at their Aug. 8 meeting. The board discussed the Nov. 8 levy vote at its Monday meeting.
WILLMAR -- The majority of people responding to an online survey support the idea of renewing an operating levy for the Willmar School District. The results of the survey were released this week by the district. The survey had 448 respondents from the district, 80 percent of them parents in the district. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said the survey is not scientific. It was sent to everyone the district has an email address for, and it was available to anyone in the community on the district's website.
WILLMAR -- The uncertainty of school funding during the state government shutdown is leading the Willmar School Board to consider borrowing $3.5 million this fall to maintain a positive cash flow during the school year. Board members discussed the need to borrow at their meeting Monday afternoon. They adopted a resolution authorizing the district to participate in aid anticipation borrowing. The situation for schools has changed several times in recent weeks, said Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington.
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Board has rejected all bids for work to update the 11 elevators in county buildings. Improvements will still be made to bring the elevators up to state code, but the work will be contracted out in smaller portions. County Administrator Larry Kleindl said he had hoped to see favorable bid amounts by bundling all the projects into one bid. "That doesn't appear to have happened." At Tuesday's board meeting, Kleindl recommended rejecting all the bids received last month.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will discuss borrowing $3.5 million to maintain a positive cash flow while state government is shut down. The board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The possibility of a substantial school funding shift has been included in several budget proposals since late June. Legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton have been meeting to try to reach a settlement on a new two-year budget for the state.