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 -- Lee Byberg of Willmar has announced his plans to launch a second campaign for Congress. Byberg, the endorsed Republican, ran against U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes last year. The long-time Democratic incumbent won the race with 55.2 percent of the vote. Byberg received 37.6 percent. Byberg is vice president of operations for Life Science Innovations Inc. in Willmar.
RENVILLE -- When bear cub twins Faith and Jason are happy, they make what first-graders call "a motor noise." Faith and Jason are the favorite bears of the first-graders at Renville County West School in Renville. Their mom Lily and sister Hope are popular, too. The students in the classrooms of teachers Sharon Krogman and Lavonne Erickson have been watching the wild black bears via a live webcam operated by the North American Bear Center at Ely. The cubs' mother Lily became famous a year ago when the webcam broadcast the birth of a cub, named Hope.
WILLMAR -- Jennie-O Turkey Store has donated more than $85,000 to the Willmar School District. The School Board voted Monday to accept the Jennie-O donation and several other donations. The Jennie-O gift will be distributed to the district's four main school buildings. The largest portion of the gift was announced earlier -- $28,107 to pay for installing new audio and video equipment at Willmar Senior High. In addition, Jennie-O has donated $25,400 to purchase library books for Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools, $19,200 for elementary technology projects and $12,270 for computers at
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.