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 -- Fireworks are a traditional part of the Fourth of July for many people, but safety officials urge people to remember that fireworks can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and some are illegal. Some attention to basic safety precautions can prevent problems and increase enjoyment for families that choose to purchase real fireworks. Fireworks that fly or explode are illegal in Minnesota, but things like sparklers are allowed. "We just recommend having a pail of water nearby, so they can make sure they are completely out," said Willmar Deputy Fire Chief Howard Carlson. Carlson also r
WILLMAR -- Architects are hard at work on the design of a $13.8 million construction and remodeling project at Ridgewater College in Willmar. Their efforts are putting the college on track to start work on the project in early spring 2013, college President Doug Allen said in a telephone interview Wednesday. The architects are meeting with small groups of staff members on campus to make sure the plan will fit the college's needs, Allen said.
WILLMAR -- Soraya Hudson of Willmar was miserable when she was in ninth grade. She was called names every day at school and wasn't doing well in her classes. She was getting into trouble. If she had stayed on that path, she said recently, she probably would not have graduated on time this spring. She did graduate, after finding an alternative to a bricks-and-mortar high school and finishing her last three and a half years of high school online. When she looks back, she said, she can see that she got into trouble by trying to act tough to ward off the bullying.
WILLMAR -- Teams of elementary teachers have been meeting this month and will continue working through July to help develop improvement plans for Willmar's two elementary schools. This isn't how they normally would spend their summers, a group of them admitted at a Thursday meeting, but they believe their work this summer will benefit students in the fall. "There's not a doubt in my mind that these teachers are passionate about kids," said Cheryl Nash, the district's director of teaching and learning.
WASHINGTON -- Both of Minnesota's Democratic senators voted for the Farm Bill, which had bipartisan support. Both had helped write the bill as members of the Agriculture Committee. The U.S. House has just taken up its version of the bill and is expected to vote on it later this summer. The bill includes a Sen.
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County ranks 78th among the state's 87 counties in its level of child poverty. Nearly a quarter of the county's children are living in poverty, almost twice as many as 10 years earlier, according to this year's Kids Count study conducted by the Minnesota office of the Children's Defense Fund. The Kids County annual report uses census data and other public information to track the status of children.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District needs to tackle the low rankings of its elementary schools as diligently as it would deal with sudden financial problems, Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said this week. Kjergaard and the Willmar School Board discussed the district's next steps Monday at a board meeting. The district must develop improvement plans for Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools this summer and have them in effect on Sept. 1. The state judged them among the Minnesota schools most in need of coaching and improvement.
WILLMAR -- An all-out effort to close the achievement gap in Willmar's schools will have an impact on the budget for the next school year. The Willmar School Board adopted the fiscal year 2013 budget this week, with general fund expenditures of $44.1 million, a 3 percent increase. The new budget will go into effect on July 1. The budget projects general fund revenue of $42.3 million, an increase of 1.3 percent.
WILLMAR -- Debate on a new federal Farm Bill is likely to begin next week in the U.S. House. Calling Congress "fairly dysfunctional" Tuesday in Willmar, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said, "I'm proud to say that the one part of Washington that's still working is the Agriculture Committee." The Senate is debating the Farm Bill this week. Peterson, D-Minn., spoke to the Kiwanis at the Willmar Community and Activity Center. He represents the 7th District, which includes most of the western third of Minnesota. Peterson will be traveling in his district for the rest of the week, while the U.S.
WILLMAR -- Willmar juniors and seniors will each pay a $50 annual rental fee when they are issued Apple iPads in September. The Willmar School Board adopted a policy and a student/parent handbook for iPad use at school.