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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Not many kids in rural Minnesota can say they've been in the same room as a Stradivarius violin, much less heard it played by a person who seems to have been born to hold it. Orchestra students in Willmar got the chance Monday when 17-year-old prodigy violinist Chad Hoopes performed for them on a violin made by Antonio Stradivari in 1713. Hoopes has been visiting schools around Minnesota as the Classical Minnesota Public Radio artist-in-residence with MPR Classical host Steve Staruch.
WILLMAR -- Ridgewater College's $13.9 million proposed remodeling project has been included in all three bonding bills proposed at the Legislature. The Minnesota Senate bonding proposal was made public Wednesday. All three bills provide the full $13.9 million that would pay for the second phase of a remodeling, demolition and expansion effort. The first phase was approved several years ago and has been completed. The money in this year's bonding bill would pay for improvements and expansion of facilities for the college's agriculture and veterinary technician programs.
LITCHFIELD -- Customers have been crowding into the new Sonora's Mexican bar and restaurant in Litchfield for the past month. "They say they've been waiting for this kind of restaurant," owner Juan Perez said as he sat in a booth after a lunch hour last week. The customers also like that it's a local restaurant, he said. A previous Mexican restaurant at the same U.S.
WILLMAR -- Hannah Bateman makes herself a chef's salad for lunch nearly every day in the Willmar Senior High cafeteria. Often, the salad includes bright, fresh greens from the school district's greenhouse on the MinnWest Technology Campus. "It's pretty nice," Hannah said as she dug into her salad on Monday. Hannah, a 16-year-old junior, said she can tell on sight if the greenhouse produce is being used on the cafeteria's salad bar. "It looks a lot fresher ... it's greener," she said.
WILLMAR -- Enrollment is holding steady for the Willmar School District after more than a decade of steady decline. Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington told the Willmar School Board Monday the computer models the district uses had predicted steady enrollment, and that seems to be happening, with slight fluctuations up and down. Enrollment at the end of January was 4,045 students, eight students more than in December and one more student than in January 2011. For more than a decade, enrollment has declined nearly every year.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board took action Monday to discontinue the equivalent of 50 non-tenured faculty positions, but many of the teachers affected are likely to be rehired next fall. The action is an annual part of the district's budget planning process. More than 50 full-time or part-time non-tenured faculty members will receive a letter from the board saying that the action was taken because of the financial condition of the district. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard and Human Resources Director Liz Fischer said the district takes this action because the district's needs for the ne
WILLMAR -- It was the passion and commitment of the teachers that helped Mike and Sheila Tolbert decide to become involved in the effort to raise money for iPads for Willmar Senior High. The Tolberts will be heading the iCardinals Campaign to raise $400,000 from the community to put Apple iPad tablet computers into the hands of each junior and senior at the high school this fall. The effort would provide iPads for about 600 students. The iCardinals Campaign plans to raise $400,000 from the community to help pay for the iPads, cases, software and other needs.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. The agenda includes a resolution to lay off all the non-tenured teachers in the district. The layoffs are done each spring.
Paper airplanes glided across the sixth-grade science classroom, and the room was busy with chatter and activity as kids judged flight patterns and commented on the various designs. It looked like a movie scene of teacher-leaves-the-room chaos.
WILLMAR -- A new Farm Bill with an overhauled dairy program could be in place by early summer, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said Friday. However, some issues could disrupt that timeline, including an impending election and disagreements over funding for food stamp programs. During a visit to Tribune offices Friday afternoon, Peterson said he was optimistic about getting a new Farm Bill in place later this year. He has been working on a revamped dairy program that would get rid of price supports and the Milk Income Loss Contract program.