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Merrill Area Public School District's online charter school lags behind rest of district in mathSubmitted: 09/17/2014

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MERRILL - The Merrill Area Public School District found out how their district compares to others in the state.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction evaluates districts and schools and gives them report cards every year.

But the district's online school did much worse than the rest of the district in math.

Students at Bridges Virtual Academy learn almost entirely online.

About 29% of Bridges students are proficient in math. But the state average is about 49%, and the district is almost 52%. That could be because many of the students at Bridges used to be homeschooled.

"Sometimes the parents may have some challenges with really effectively instructing their child in a particular math subject," says Bridges Virtual Academy Administrator John Hagemeister.

Educators at Bridges think it's easier for parents to teach their kids English.

Bridges' reading scores were slightly higher than the state average.

Teachers at Bridges are working on improving their math scores.

First, they find out how much students know, then they make specific plans for each student.

They hope that helps them catch up.

"Really gain more than a whole grade level's worth of growth in a year. So that's a challenge you know when you have kids all over the state," says Hagemeister.

Students that live near Merrill can get help from a teacher in person one day a week.

But if they're too far they can also use online resources for extra practice in math.

"They're going to be able to do problems of all sorts of skill levels so they're going to be able to do maybe some lower levels or some upper levels to really be able to get that extra video instruction that they need," says Bridges Virtual Academy teacher Trina Lutzke.

Only about 25% of students at Bridges are physically from Northern Wisconsin.

Anyone in the state can enroll.

Right now the school is part of Merrill's School District.

70% of the money from Bridges goes directly to the school, while 30% percent goes to the district.

"There is an interest to have charter schools become independent charter schools or what's called non-instrumentality schools. In that case what happens is that all funding for that student that goes into that school, goes to the school and not to the district," says Merrill Area Public Schools Superintendent Wally Leipart.

That means the district could lose a lot of money.

The district estimates they'll get $1.3 million from Bridges this year.

"This is a practice that both the legislature and DPI had encouraged school districts to do if you were seeking other revenue and you didn't want to go to referendum, consider starting a charter school," says Leipart.

Story By: Kaitlyn Howe

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 LOCAL NEWS
Lincoln County looking for an alleged felonSubmitted: 09/17/2014

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LINCOLN COUNTY - The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office needs help finding a woman wanted on a felony warrant.

41-year-old Cynthia Jane Degner was charged with her 4th DWI in 2013. She didn't show up at a June court date.

In June she was also charged with felony forgery.

Degner told police she was moving to Kankakee, Illinois. Police believe Degner might now be in Tennessee.

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Students get opportunity to plan for life after high schoolSubmitted: 09/17/2014

MINOCQUA - High School students need to start thinking about life after high school during their junior and senior year.

On Wednesday Lakeland Union High School and Nicolet College hosted the Wisconsin Education Fair to help them with that.

Nearly 80 colleges, universities and branches of the military offered information to high school juniors and seniors from all across northern Wisconsin. Schools from as far away as Nevada and Alabama came to the fair.

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Drug Endangered Children Program in Price CountySubmitted: 09/17/2014

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PRICE COUNTY - Some children in the Northwoods live in environments where their caretakers abuse drugs.

The Price County Sheriff's Office hopes a new program will help those children.

The Drug Endangered Children Program, or DEC, assists children whose caretakers abuse, sell, or manufacture drugs.

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Students learn about natureSubmitted: 09/17/2014

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TOMAHAWK - More than 50 fourth graders from Tomahawk learned about nature on Wednesday as part of long-lived education program. UW-Stevens Point staff at Treehaven host programs to teach elementary students about nature. The program has been around Tomahawk Public Schools for more than 25 years.

"We are doing a lot about the history of Tomahawk, the people that were here in the early 1800s and just a little bit about the land," explained Naturalist Rachel Anderson. "Right not we've been doing some tree identification and forestry measurements, but this morning they were learning about the voyagers and the Native Americans in this area."

The program covers more than just fall-learning, Treehaven leaders host learning programs in the spring and winter as well. You don't have to be a student to take part in some of the programs at the learning center. They include group hikes where you practice and discuss identifying plants and trees.

"We've had two this fall, and I'm hoping that is something we can continue to do in all seasons and continue to offer," said Anderson. "We've been getting a lot of positive reinforcement that it's something that the public is really interested in, so we hope to continue to offer more in the future."

Treehaven leaders regularly offer programs to the public involving nature, education, and artistry. If you are interested in learning more about these programs and events, you can follow the link listed below the article.

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A Submitted: 09/17/2014

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MERRILL - "It doesn't get any colder than what the defendant did in this case," Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Zengler told a judge on Wednesday.

Zengler was talking about the actions of Kristine Woeller, a 21-year-old Merrill woman.

Last October, Woellner didn't stick around to help Tara Bryant.

Woellner had given Bryant heroin and needles in the bathroom at a Merrill gas station.

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Fab Lab prepares students for the modern workforceSubmitted: 09/17/2014

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THREE LAKES - Students in Three Lakes will learn how to use new technology like 3D printers and laser cutters this year. It's all part of the district's brand new Fab Lab.

Fab Labs have the most modern manufacturing equipment. Students will learn to use the same tools that businesses use. The lab manager thinks that will help students from Three Lakes get better jobs.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/17/2014

- A Merrill woman provided heroin to another woman last fall. She then left her in a gas station bathroom to overdose on it. Find out for how long she'll go to prison.

- Plus, students in Three Lakes can learn to use new technology like 3-D printers and laser and plasma cutters. It's all part of the school's brand new Fab Lab. Newswatch 12's Karolina Buczek went to the lab to find out how it's preparing students for the workforce.


We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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