Willmar Schools on track to spend more than $1 million in pandemic aid before end of year

Pandemic aid has helped the Willmar School District purchase iPads for elementary students and add layers of safety in its buildings on a tight schedule. Some of the money arrived in late summer and must be spent before the end of the year. School officials say they are on track to be able to do that.

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WILLMAR — The Willmar School District is on track to have spent more than $1 million of county and state assistance for pandemic-related expenses by the end of December.

Business and Finance Director Kathryn Haase provided a report to the Willmar School Board at its Monday meeting.

Haase said school districts have been notified that they must have spent at least 75 percent of that funding by Nov. 13. The district is on track to do that, she said. The district has received about $1.5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds from the city and county, which is on a tight timeline and must be spent by Dec. 30.

“We are really grateful for the resources,” Haase said. “We’ve done our best to handle the funds in a really thoughtful way.”

Money from school districts who haven’t spent 75 percent of their funding by Friday could be redistributed to the rest of the state, Haase said, so it’s possible Wilmar could receive additional funding.


The pandemic funding was used to purchase enough iPads to provide one for elementary students and other technology needs to facilitate distance learning. Secondary students already had school-issued iPads. The money was also used to purchase face masks and shields, sanitizing equipment and plexiglas panels. Some was used to pay for extra staff time for training and school year preparation and to make improvements to the district’s website.

The district has another approximately $1 million in pandemic assistance for education which must be spent by Sept. 30, 2022.

Also related to the pandemic, the board approved a transfer of $79,624 to Community Education to replace revenue lost when school buildings closed last spring and districts were told to offer free child care to essential workers. Cardinal Place, the district’s child care program for school-age children, lost significant revenue because of the change.

The funds will be transferred from a designated reserve fund for a program that did not operate during the shutdown.

The board’s resolution approving the transfer was needed so the annual audit could be completed, Haase said.

The annual Truth in Taxation hearing will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 14, followed by the regular board meeting. The board has been holding meetings by videoconference since March. However, the Dec. 14 meeting will be in person, mostly likely in the auditorium at the Willmar Education and Arts Center to allow room for social distancing.

The Dec. 14 meeting will also include the required annual public meeting on the school district’s progress on its World’s Best Workforce goals.

The board voted to accept gifts and donations totaling more than $23,000. The largest donation was $15,227.19 from the 100 Yard Club for a football coach stipend.


Haase reported that enrollment is 4,168 students. That’s 190 students fewer than this time last year and 111 fewer than at the end of the last school year.

The board also approved a resolution making the results of the Nov. 3 School Board election final. The four incumbents — Tammy Barnes, Justin Bos, Mike Reynolds and Scott Thaden — were re-elected.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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