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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Highly-motivated students and a warm greeting from the staff have made visiting Chinese teacher Bai Jinguo feel welcome in his first month at Willmar Senior High. Bai clasped his hands and bowed slightly to greet the Willmar School Board on Monday in a traditional Chinese greeting. Bai told the board about his background and talked about his first impressions of Willmar during a work shop meeting.
RAYMOND -- It was a little scary to go into business last April, considering the condition of the economy at the time, said Jessica Heida. But Heida, who just turned 29, took the plunge with Heida's Corner Café in Raymond. She joined at least a half dozen other businesses in the community owned by people 30 or younger. The newest member of the club is S&D Repair, owned by Brian Sietsema, 29, and John-Adam Day, 30. Their business opened along Highway 23 about a month ago. Some of the businesses have already been around for a while already.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will hold a workshop meeting at 4:30 p.m. today in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The meeting is open to the public. The board will hear a presentation from the district's visiting teacher from China, Bai Jinguo.
WILLMAR -- The Mandarin Chinese program at Willmar Senior High has received a five-year classroom grant from the Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota. The Willmar School District had applied for a one-year grant to help support the program but High School Principal Rob Anderson was notified this week that it was extended for five years. It's almost unheard of to apply for one year of grant funding and to receive five years instead. "I can't tell you how many times I read that letter," Anderson said, chuckling about his disbelief when he received notification on Thursday.
WILLMAR -- A series of meetings about choosing and applying to colleges will begin Monday in Willmar. Todd Johnson will speak about applying to college from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the second floor meeting room at the Willmar Public Library. The series of meetings is free and open to the public. Johnson is a Willmar lawyer who also has a college admissions consulting business.
RENVILLE -- The Renville County West School Board has adopted a preliminary 2010 property tax levy that is 35 percent less than the 2009 levy. The board adopted a preliminary levy of $877,339 at its meeting Monday. The board also discussed how the first week of school had gone with all of the district's students in one building. The levy adopted this week was $486,000 less than the one adopted a year ago.
WILLMAR -- Willmar Public Schools had 4,128 students enrolled on Sept. 11, according to preliminary enrollment reports. "We're above where we were last year at the end of the year," Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said. But the preliminary enrollment figures indicate enrollment is about 22 students less than at the same time a year ago. At the end of the last school year, Willmar's enrollment was about 4,000 students. Minnesota's public school districts will send their first official enrollment reports to the state on Oct. 1.
WILLMAR -- Testing in fall and spring in the 2008-09 school year indicated that students in Willmar grew academically during the school year. However, the district did not make enough progress to meet state and federal education requirements. The two types of tests tell the district very different things, Danith Clausen told the Willmar School Board. Clausen is the district's director of curriculum and instruction. Clausen presented the annual report on curriculum, instruction and student achievement during the board's Monday meeting.
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WILLMAR -- A preliminary property tax levy indicates that school taxes in the Willmar School District will increase 2 percent next year. The School Board adopted a preliminary levy Monday afternoon. The levy, to be collected in 2010, was set at $6,724,530.56. That's about $117,000 more than the levy collected this year. The school district is required to adopt a preliminary levy by Sept.