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 Tribune wants to hear how the first week of school went in the Willmar School District's reorganized schools. Did the transition of so many students and teachers go smoothly? Were there things parents, kids or staff members liked about it?
The H1N1 novel influenza virus is out there and it's probably inevitable that it will turn up in area schools this year. It doesn't seem to have happened yet in west central Minnesota, but it is turning up in other areas. Just a couple days after school started, Two Harbors Superintendent Phil Minkkinen has already sent a letter to parents in his district to tell them that several students have influenza-like illnesses that appear to be the H1N1 flu, often called swine flu. The University of Minnesota has seen an increasing number of cases since classes started Tuesday.
The health care reform debate this year may provide a chance to change a system of uneven Medicare reimbursements to health care providers, according to U.S. Rep.
WILLMAR -- Chinese teacher Bai Jinguo was impressed that a Willmar Best Buy employee was able to speak with him in Chinese when he shopped there recently. The girl is a student in the Mandarin Chinese program at Willmar Senior High. Bai is looking forward to meeting more students when classes begin today. It will be the beginning of a year-long adventure for all of them. Bai will spend the school year in Willmar as part of the U.S. State Department's Teachers of Critical Languages Program. A State Department grant will fund his stay here.
WILLMAR -- The sale of the former Washington Learning Center building on Willmar Avenue is off. The purchaser, Royal Investments Group of Spicer, had until Aug.
NEW LONDON -- On Tuesday morning, Mike Shimek will get up, get dressed and get on the bus to head off for third grade. He'll have chosen his clothes the night before, and his lunch will be packed and ready to go. "There's a lot of what we do that's very similar to other families," said his mother, Julie Jurgens-Shimek. But for Mike, an 8-year-old with autism, getting into the routine might be more difficult, and it will take a lot more planning. Joel Justin, a Willmar special education teacher, recently compiled a list of tips for parents to help their children get ready for school.
WILLMAR -- When Willmar teachers and students begin a new school year Tuesday, the child guides will be there. It hasn't been certain that the popular program would survive in the past couple years, as grant funding has dwindled. Now, the guides have a new lease on life as a program of the Willmar Community Education and Recreation Department. Describing what the five child guides do for children isn't easy. They can find donated sports equipment for young athletes and make sure all kids have pencils and colors on the first day of the school.
Community Christian School will begin the school year on Sept. 8 with a new principal, a new child care program and its first class of seniors.
WILLMAR -- School and bus company officials have come up with a one-year solution for parents who live in one elementary attendance area in the Willmar School District and have child care in another. Shuttle buses, available only for children with day care in another area, will take children between the two Willmar elementary schools before and after school. School starts on Tuesday.
WILLMAR -- Local health officials hope that many area residents will be vaccinated against seasonal flu in September. That will allow them to focus later in the fall on vaccinating high-risk groups against the H1N1 novel influenza, commonly called the swine flu. The previously unknown flu virus showed up in Mexico earlier this year and quickly spread worldwide. The outbreak is now classified as a pandemic. Kandiyohi County Public Health Director Ann Stehn said she anticipates receiving the vaccine for swine flu in mid-October, but that's not a firm timeline.