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 — It’s still unclear whether the Willmar School Board will adopt a new policy on allowing board members to work for the district. Board members at their meeting this week discussed a proposed policy that would not allow board members to work for the district but took no action.
WILLMAR — The annual audit of the Willmar Public Schools indicates a district with a healthy fund balance and a strong financial position. Paul Harvego, a partner with Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing accounting firm in Willmar, went over the district’s financial statements in a report to the School Board this week. “Overall, your position looks very good,” he said. “Your general fund is looking in very good condition.” The district ended the 2012-13 budget year with an undesignated general fund balance of $7 million, about 16 percent of general fund expenditures.
WILLMAR — Three members of the Willmar School Board have voted against a two-year contract renewal for Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard. The contract was approved on a 4-3 vote. The board approved the contract Monday, a rare split vote on an administrator’s contract renewal. After the meeting, the board members who voted against the contract talked about wanting a new direction for the district. Kjergaard said none of the three had talked to him before the contract vote, and he didn’t know why they had voted against him.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. The agenda includes a report on the district’s annual audit and renewal of Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard’s contract through 2017. The board is also slated to discuss a new conflict of interest policy that would prevent board members from working for the school district and also to review a proposed job description for a communications coordinator.
WILLMAR — The Kandi Mall in Willmar will be the site of a BEST Robotics exhibition from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The exhibition is part of the second annual Minnesota BEST Robotics Competition taking place next weekend at New London-Spicer High School. BEST stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology. BEST Inc. has operated an annual robotics competition nationwide for 20 years. Students involved in the competition learned of this year’s game, “Gatekeeper,” at a kickoff event Sept. 7 at NLS High School.
Orange was the color of the day Wednesday at Willmar Middle School, to celebrate National Unity Day, part of Bullying Prevention Month. Unity Day was part of a week of programs and activities related to bullying prevention. Students and teachers wore orange clothing around the school. Those who didn’t have orange clothing sported orange ribbons tied around their wrists.
WILLMAR — The Willmar Public Schools Foundation Board has OK’d paying for all or part of the activity fees for eight Willmar Senior High students. The requests, which were approved at the board meeting Monday, totaled $1,885. The requests were all for sports, football, soccer and volleyball. Requests are often received for other activities, too. It’s common for the board to approve a number of requests for activity fees at a meeting, as it was one of the original purposes of the foundation when it was founded 30 years ago.
WILLMAR — Willmar Public Schools are challenged by their facilities, which are crowded and inadequate in some cases, but they are strong in welcoming technology and in academic offerings, according to a task force studying the school district’s facilities. The task force met last week to do an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the district. The group will meet through the fall to develop a 10-year plan for facilities in the school district.
WILLMAR — St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Willmar will join other groups across the country on Saturday, which has been designated a National Day of Dignity and Respect for the Immigrant. The Hispanic community of Willmar has invited area residents to gather for a bilingual prayer service at 3 p.m. Saturday in front of the Kandiyohi County Courthouse, 505 Becker Ave. S.W. in downtown Willmar. The Rev. Jim Devorak, director of Hispanic ministry at the Church of St. Mary, said the gathering is not meant to be political.
Paynesville Area Elementary School was among the schools celebrating this week when the state released its most recent school rankings. The school made dramatic gains in its Multiple Measurement Ratings scores over the past year. The first of these kinds of scores were released by the Minnesota Department of Education in spring 2012. The school this year has been named a Reward School, among the top 25 percent in the state. A year ago, the school was considered a Focus School, placing it among the 10 percent of schools contributing most to the state’s achievement gap.