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 Board will begin 2017 with two new board members and a new leader. Chairwoman Liz VanDerBill is retiring from the board after serving a four-year term, two years as chair. VanDerBill said she decided to step down for family reasons. When she was first elected, her daughter Abby was in kindergarten, and now she's a busy fourth-grader. As she becomes busier and involved in more activities, VanDerBill said, she finds herself pulled in many directions. Serving on the board "takes up a lot of time I should be spending with her," she said.
WILLMAR — After Jan. 7, the six-week frenzy will begin for the Willmar FIRST Robotics team. The team of more than 20 Willmar Senior High School students, along with 3,200 other FIRST teams, will receive the assignment for their competition robot. The teams will also receive a kit of parts they can use to build their robots. Teams will have six weeks to design, build and test the robot before they take it to competition — a chance to handle real-world engineering problems.
WILLMAR – The Willmar School Board and the school district’s teachers may have found a path to a tentative agreement on long-running contract negotiations. The board and Education Minnesota-Willmar have been negotiating since April 2015. The previous two-year contract expired June 30, 2015, and the teachers have been working under the old contract since then. The two sides have signed tentative agreements on language issues but have been unable to agree on salaries.
WILLMAR — In an effort to clarify how a contract provision is interpreted, the Willmar School Board has denied a teacher grievance so it can move on to arbitration. The board voted at its meeting last week to deny teacher Robert Flegel's grievance that he was underpaid for teaching an extra course for the first semester of the school year. Flegel, a science teacher at Willmar Senior High School, claimed in the grievance that the district had underpaid him about $700 for four days the teaching staff was on duty but did not have student contact.
WILLMAR – The Facebook post is heartbreaking: Today I lost my daughter to the evils of depression,” Ray Stenglein posted Monday. Annika Belle Stenglein, 16, daughter of Ray and Kim...
WILLMAR — The man and woman had both died of cancer. She had colon cancer that spread to other organs. He had lung cancer, making his lungs black and hard. Their names were not known to the high school students who viewed their dissected bodies last week at the South Dakota State University cadaver lab in Brookings. But there was not much else unknown about them when the Willmar Senior High School anatomy class visited the lab, with parent permission.
WILLMAR — Property taxes for Willmar Public Schools will increase 13 percent in 2017. Pam Harrington, the school district's business and finance director, explained the changes in the levy at the Truth-in-Taxation hearing Monday evening. The School Board approved the levy after the hearing. No member of the public attended the hearing. The school share of property taxes for its taxpayers will increase from $7.8 million this year to $8.8 million next year.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the boardroom on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center. After the regular meeting, the board will hold a closed session to evaluate the performance of Superintendent Jeff Holm. At 6 p.m., the board will conduct its annual Truth in Taxation public hearing. After the hearing, the board is expected to approve the property tax levy to be paid in 2017.
WILLMAR — Jan. 3 will be the big day, when Willmar Middle School students and teachers move into their new science classrooms. The two classroom additions will be the first major project to be completed in a district-wide building program approved by the district's voters in May 2015. A new elementary school and an addition and remodeling at Willmar Senior High School are the other major projects on the $52.35 million list of bond referendum projects. Remodeling, maintenance and roofing projects round out the building program.
After swimming in the Pacific, going to a luau and learning to hula, the more than 80 students from the Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg High School got down to the real reason they made a December trip to Hawaii. The KMS Marching Saints students represented Minnesota in a mass band and choir which performed Wednesday at the 75th anniversary observance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.