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 picture flashed on the screen and Bai Jinguo asked, "What is this." "Egg rolls," the students answered. Bai glanced around the room. "In Chinese," he said, with a hint of exasperation in his voice. The students laughed and answered again. A few minutes later, they took a quiz, which Bai called an "opportunity," on the food and beverage names on a Chinese menu. The Willmar Senior High students have just a few days left to spend with Bai before school is out and he returns to his job teaching English in Harbin, China.
WILLMAR -- Willmar principals say the first year of a school district restructuring went well. But the realignment of grades K-8, affecting more than 2,500 students, was not without its frustrations, they told the Willmar School Board during a workshop meeting Monday. During an effort to cut nearly $2.8 million from its budget a year ago, the Willmar School District went from four elementary schools to two.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will probably decide in July whether to ask voters to renew an operating levy that is about to expire. The School Board discussed asking voters to revoke a levy that will expire next year and replace it with a new 10-year levy at a workshop meeting Monday. It's likely that the board could ask voters to replace the expiring levy with a larger one to help cushion the district from potential cuts in state aid. The district currently has operating levies totaling $700 per pupil unit.
WILLMAR -- When he opened Fiesta Time Rentals, Roberto Valdez Jr. planned to double his sales in his first two years in business. A little more than two years after its launch, Fiesta Time sales have tripled. Valdez's story is an example of a small business that started small and has grown into a thriving enterprise. Fiesta Time started with a simple idea.
WILLMAR -- A Willmar man facing domestic assault charges made his first appearance in Kandiyohi County District Court Monday. Christopher Gerald Wallace, 38, of Willmar was arrested after Willmar Police officers were called to an apartment in southwest Willmar Friday evening. Wallace faces two felony charges of 2nd-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and terroristic threats. He also faces a misdemeanor domestic assault charge. According to court records, a woman said Wallace had been arguing with a woman Thursday evening and most of the day on Friday.
WILLMAR -- A New London man made his first appearance Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court on felony charges of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and terroristic threats. Jesse Gerald Keehn, 20, of New London, was arrested Friday evening after an incident at his home southwest of New London. Keehn also faces a misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree assault. Judge Michael J. Thompson released him on his personal recognizance with orders to have no contact with the alleged victim and to turn over his firearms until the case is resolved.
WILLMAR -- A group of area superintendents looking for ways to work together will have the help of a $5,000 grant from the Southwest Initiative Foundation. The superintendents from districts stretching from Hutchinson to Granite Falls to Ortonville started meeting this spring to brainstorm ideas for working together in the future. Their hope is to develop ideas that could save money and improve education for kids. Willmar Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard, one of the instigators of the effort, said Friday he hopes the grant can help them focus their efforts.
WILLMAR -- With less than two months to go in the fiscal year, the Willmar School District is still waiting for more than $1.5 million in aid promised by the state. And that doesn't include the $8 million-plus that Gov. Tim Pawlenty order-ed held back until after July 1. Pam Harrington, director of business and finance for the Willmar School District, discussed the district's financial situation at the School Board meeting this week.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has approved a nickel increase in the cost of students' school meals for the 2010-11 school year. The increase, roughly $9 per student for the school year, came after a lengthy discussion at the board meeting Monday.
WILLMAR -- A new road and bus parking area should help relieve congestion around Roosevelt Elementary School next year. On Monday, the School Board approved a contract with the city of Willmar to build the road from 15th Street Southwest to Roosevelt. The $373,000 road and parking lot will keep bus traffic north of the building and car traffic to the south before and after school. Currently, cars and buses all use the south side of the building. The school district will pay the city for the project in 10 annual payments, with interest.