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 not good news that Willmar's two elementary schools placed near the bottom of the state in battling the achievement gap, but "we're not going to beat each other up," Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said Monday afternoon. Kjergaard met with elementary teachers Monday afternoon at the Willmar Education and Arts Center to break the news to them. State testing data were released early to school administrators and are available to the general public today. Kennedy Elementary is called a Priority School, meaning it was ranked in the bottom 5 percent of schools in student proficienc
This story has been corrected to include Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Elementary School in Brooten among the top-performing schools in the area. WILLMAR -- Many area schools fared well in the first release of new state testing data released today, but some were rated among the lowest schools in the state in addressing the achievement gap. Five schools in the area were listed in the bottom two categories of schools -- including Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools in Willmar and Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City North Elementary in Atwater -- and eight were listed in the top tier in this first
A desire to stay in Willmar and help the local Somali community led a husband-wife team to form West Central Interpreting and Consultant Services of Willmar. Abdirizak Mahboub and Sahra Gure are hoping their service, staffed by recently trained professional interpreters, can help improve communications between different segments of the community and help lessen misunderstandings caused by language or cultural barriers. Mahboub is a mechanical engineer who just finished a degree in public policy from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
WILLMAR -- Tang Beiyi's students are going to miss her when the school year ends in a couple weeks. For Tang, it will be hard to leave them, too, as she ends a school year teaching in Willmar and returns to her home in China. Tang has been a teacher in the U.S. State Department's Teachers of Critical Languages Program. Tang is the second Chinese teacher to live in Willmar in the past three years. As with Bai Jinguo two years ago, she has been co-teaching with Willmar Chinese teacher Todd Lynum. "She's really friendly," Morgan Lalim, a senior at Willmar Senior High, said last week.
WILLMAR -- Willmar Public Schools' enrollment has been holding steady in the last half of the school year, and that could help the district's bottom line. The district's relatively healthy general fund balance could be affected somewhat by efforts to maintain elementary teaching staffs. For at least the past decade, enrollment has declined steadily beginning after the first of the year.
WILLMAR -- Teachers in the Willmar School District will be working longer days next year, and they'll receive a raise to pay for their extra time. School administrators hope that the additional time for meetings and planning will help increase student achievement. The Willmar School Board gave final approval to the 2011-13 contract with the local Education Minnesota bargaining unit Monday afternoon. The contract will increase a teacher's official workday from 7 hours a day to 7.5 hours a day. Teacher salary schedules commonly consist of a series of steps and lanes.
LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Republican Party leaders will meet this evening to discuss whether to reconsider the party's endorsement of Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, for his vote in favor of a new Vikings stadium. The meeting will be at 6 p.m.
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 Street S.W. The board is scheduled to consider approving the 2011-13 contracts for the district's teachers and for teachers and for secretarial employees. Also on the agenda is the 2011-12 revised budget. School districts are required by the state to adopt budgets before the fiscal year begins on June 30 each year.
WILLMAR -- Eight students from Hansenberg College in Denmark just spent two weeks in the veterinary technology program at Ridgewater College in Willmar, part of an exchange program that has been four years in the making. This fall Ridgewater students will visit Hansenberg for two weeks. For Dr.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar area has a dozen new certified Somali language interpreters, something that pleases the elders in the Somali community. The five women and seven men completed 40 hours of professional interpreter training at Ridgewater College this year. Several of the elders spoke at a graduation ceremony for the new interpreters Wednesday evening at the Willmar Public Library. About 25 people attended.