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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Several area school districts had seats filled by write-in votes in the Nov. 2 election, because the number of open seats on their boards outnumbered the candidates who filed for office.
WILLMAR -- A week after voters turned down a request for an operating levy, the Willmar Schools officials have left no doubt that there will be another vote in November 2011. At Monday's School Board meeting, Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said he has already met with Education Matters, the citizens' group that supported the previous levy. Because the $498.49 levy will expire after this year, the district will be asking voters to at least renew the levy next year.
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 board is scheduled to discuss the audit of fiscal year 2010. They will meet with representatives of from Conway, Deuth and Schmiesing of Willmar, which conducted the audit. The audit indicates that the district's general fund balance was about $4.8 million, about 12 percent of annual expenditures.
WILLMAR -- Dan Croonquist, Linda Mathiasen and Nathan Streed were elected to four-year terms on the Willmar School Board in Tuesday's election. The three were chosen from a field of seven candidates.
WILLMAR -- Voters in the Willmar School District have turned back an operating levy that would have raised an additional $1.8 million a year for the next 10 years. The voters refused to revoke a $498.49 levy per pupil unit and replace it with an $898.49 levy. The vote was 4,627 no to 4,411 yes. The $498.49 levy is set to expire next year. School officials have said they will likely try again next year.
M'Angelo Harris wants to be an elementary teacher. He's confident he'll make it, and the TRiO program at Ridgewater College will have played a role. Harris, 26, of Minneapolis, said TRiO has helped him in many ways as a first-generation college student. TRiO has been on campus for five years and will be around for another five years, thanks to a federal grant received this fall. $237,602 will be provided per year through the grant to help low-income, first-generation or disabled students.
WILLMAR -- Forty percent of Minnesota families that would be eligible for food support have not applied for it. Seventy percent of those eligible for energy assistance aren't receiving it. One-fifth of eligible families aren't claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Working Family Credit on their taxes. The Children's Defense Fund has developed the Bridge to Benefits website, available in a number of states to help people determine if they are eligible for a variety of public assistance programs. The website is www.
WILLMAR -- Voters in the Willmar School District will decide Tuesday whether to approve an operating levy of $400 per pupil for the next 10 years. In the operating levy vote Tuesday, the district proposes revoking a levy of $498.49 per pupil unit and replacing it with an $898.49 levy. If the new levy is approved, school property taxes would increase about $10 a month for each $100,000 in property value on residential and business property in the district. The current levy raises about $2.4 million a year, while the proposed levy would raise about $4.2 million a year.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Area Multicultural Market has received a $234,422 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help small businesses and entrepreneurs create jobs. WAMM is an economic development corporation serving the Willmar area. Program Director Roberto Valdez said in a telephone interview Thursday that the grant is a major award for WAMM. It will help the organization develop new programs and expand its existing ones. About $66,000 of the federal funding is earmarked for capital investment.
WILLMAR -- Ridgewater College students had a chance Thursday in the school's cafeteria to question candidates for office. Most of the people running for local legislative seats were there, along with some city, county and congressional candidates. Several third-party candidates for statewide office attended, too. The Ridgewater Student Senate conducted a voter registration effort earlier this fall. The two-hour Campaign Rally Day event was a continuation of the effort to encourage students to vote. The candidates varied in their approaches.