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 -- The Willmar School District saw an uptick in its enrollment last year, but its undesignated fund balance shrank. The School Board received the fiscal year 2009 audit at its meeting Monday afternoon. The fiscal year ended on June 30. Auditor Paul Harvego of Conway, Deuth and Schmiesing told the board that the district is in relatively good financial condition. The district's fund balance of about $4 million is similar to the state average, Harvego said.
WILLMAR -- The first kids to see the Earth Balloon stood with their mouths gaping open. "Oh, my gosh," one said.
Two area school districts whose operating levies failed Tuesday will be looking for ways to cut budgets and still maintain as much of their staff and programs as possible. More than 70 percent of school operating levies were approved by their school districts' voters on Tuesday. Levies in Lac qui Parle Valley, MACCRAY and Renville County West were approved.
Voters in the MACCRAY and Renville County West school districts approved new operating levies Tuesday. MACCRAY's operating levy was approved by a 2-1 margin, 701 yes votes to 325 no votes. The referendum question asked voters to increase the levy to $1,100.03 per pupil for 10 years, an increase of $600 per pupil. In RCW, the voters approved two questions. The first question renews and increases an existing levy that was about to expire. It passed on a vote of 641 to 477.
WILLMAR -- It's going to take a combination of budget cuts and higher taxes to get Minnesota out of the budget deficit it will face next year, according to State Rep. Tom Rukavina. Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, met with about 30 Ridgewater College students and staff Tuesday morning as part of a three-day tour of college campuses in western Minnesota. He is chairman of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Committee.
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County has a higher rate of child poverty than the state or the nation. So do several other counties in west central Minnesota. Representatives of the Children's Defense Fund in Willmar Monday said they expect those rates to rise higher as more recent information is received to reflect the impact of the recession. Information from the CDF Web site indicates that many area counties exceed the national child poverty rate of 12 percent.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District is planning another round of budget cuts before the 2010-11 school year. Early estimates are that the district may need to cut $1.4 million from its budget, but that could be just the beginning. Depending on how the state handles school funding issues in the next year, Willmar and most other districts in the state could see anticipated revenue fall far short of their needs. The School Board heard a report on the district's financial position and on enrollment levels at a recent workshop. Enrollment offered some good news.
WILLMAR -- Brady Reigstad and Isis Acevedo worked side by side to color and cut out the pieces to make a jack o' lantern hand puppet out of a small paper bag. Brady, 10, and Isis, 5, had just met. So had Natasha Ibarra, 11, and Grace Johnson, 6, who were making their own puppet on the other side of the table. Nearby Grace Graves, 10, and Erin Roemeling, 5, made a paper doll puppet. The fifth-graders in Eric Means' class met Susan Olson's kindergarten class Friday afternoon at Roosevelt Elementary School.
DANUBE -- When Cal and Suzie Lueck bought in to the Dad's Belgian Waffles business eight years ago, they did nearly all of the work themselves. Now, they have three teams, occasionally four, serving waffles and sausages to crowds all over Minnesota and Wisconsin. They even have groupies. One woman in the Twin Cities meets her friends at the nearest waffle feed to celebrate her birthday. Another admirer chose his weekend camping destination so he could go to a waffle feed, too. "We'll be at a Twins game and somebody will say, 'Where do I know you from,' and Cal will say, 'Waffles?' They'll
RENVILLE -- A year ago, the voters in the Renville County West School District turned down a request to build a new K-12 school building. School Board members took that as a message that the district's residents wanted them to make do with what they had. So, earlier this year, the board voted to close the elementary school in Sacred Heart and move all the district's educational programs into the school building in Renville. Though some of the "new" parts of the building are more than 40 years old, the Renville building was the larger and younger of the two buildings the district still opera