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 -- A list of about $2 million in potential budget cuts will be revealed at the Willmar School Board meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The budget reductions are the only discussion item on the agenda at the workshop meeting.
WILLMAR -- United FCS has purchased 6.4 acres of land for an expansion of its Willmar offices. CEO Marc Knisely announced the purchase Friday morning at the United FCS offices in Willmar. "Sharing positive news in this economic environment is good for everyone," he said. The land purchased is northeast of the intersection of U.S. Highway 71 South and 45th Avenue Southeast/Kandiyohi County Road 19. The land is in Willmar's city limits and is already served by city utilities. Plans for the new facility are not final, but construction could begin later this year, he said.
MADISON -- The Lac qui Parle Valley School District and its teachers have missed a state deadline for settling a new contract. Districts that did not make the Friday deadline will be assessed a fine of $25 per pupil unit, about $25,000 in Lac qui Parle's case, according to Superintendent Brad Madsen. The district and its teachers had been in mediation before the deadline. They had reached a tentative agreement which was not ratified by the teachers, he said. Local union president Lauri Wyum could not be reached Monday. Madsen did not want to reveal the details of the tentative agreement.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District has a new ways to notify parents if school is closed for the day, starting late or closing early. Starting with the next snowstorm or emergency, a system called Campus Messenger will be used to call all Willmar parents at nearly the same time. Campus Messenger is part of a package of computer software used by the district.
WILLMAR -- The warm welcome Willmar extended to a visiting Chinese teacher has been noticed by the Teachers of Critical Languages Program. "This is a great placement," Eliza Doton said Friday. "The community support just overwhelms us." Doton is a program officer with the American Councils for International Education in Washington, D.C. The organization oversees the Teachers of Critical Languages Program, part of the U.S.
WILLMAR -- Every month for the past three years, students in the Willmar School District have had a chance to eat locally produced foods through the Farm to School program. This week, it was cheese made from Minnesota milk, melted on top of a chicken patty and stuck in a bun along with a slice of turkey ham. The chicken cordon bleu sandwiches were a hit with many of the students at Kennedy Elementary School. "I wish I knew how this sandwich was made," one first-grader said as she polished off her sandwich.
The black cherry Kool-Aid and the lemon lime Kool-Aid absorbed and reflected light in different ways. A mixture of the two, analyzed by a spectrophotometer, revealed characteristics of both flavors to science students at Community Christian School this week. Dr. Bruce Jacobson, a St. Cloud State University science professor, led students through the exercise Wednesday in the Science Express mobile science lab.
RENVILLE -- The Renville County West School Board is working on refining enrollment projections for next year. It's the beginning the budget planning for the 2010-11 school year, said Superintendent Lance Bagstad. The district built its budget for this year on an estimate of 501 students. Midway through the year, it has an average daily enrollment of 535 students. Since state aid is based on student numbers, enrollment is an important part of building budget projections. Bagstad said that he expects enrollment to continue to drop as spring approaches.
WILLMAR -- Sara and Mike Carlson spent a tense day Wednesday wondering -- about earthquake damage in Haiti, about people they know, about what to tell their two children who were born there. The two youngest Carlson children, 10 and 12, were adopted in Haiti and came home to Willmar seven years ago. A number of other families in the area also have adopted children from Haiti. "It's been a tense and anxiety-ridden day," Sara Carlson said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has approved a two-year contract with the district's teachers. The contract will allow an overall 1 percent increase in salary and benefits for teachers in the first year and a 1.9 percent increase in the second year. Members of the teachers union ratified the agreement in December. State school districts have until Friday to settle their teacher contracts. If they don't, they must pay a penalty to the state. The salary schedule for the district's 327 teachers will not change during the contract.