EAGLE RIVER - When you step into a Northland Pines school, you'll see laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks.
"I would say within five years, we may not even see a textbook in the the classroom anymore," Superintendent Mike Richie said. "It's going to be chromebooks, it's going to be ipads, and those kinds of things."
Even the schools themselves look shiny and new.
So you might ask yourself: why is this district asking taxpayers for more money?
Superintendent Mike Richie says there are a few answers to that question.
One goes all the way back to the early 90s, when the state funding formula started to change.
"That first base year to figure out what the cap would be for each district, it was actually based off the prior year. So any district in the state that was very frugal or did a great job with their tax levy was actually punished for future years," Richie said.
And Pines is frugal. The district stretched their last three year referendum to four years.
And this time, they're asking for $2.7 million per year instead of $2.9 million.
But there are still budget issues they can't get around.
Transportation costs are a huge issue here. While other districts are more compact, Northland Pines covers a large area, and that's why they spend $1.3 million per year just getting kids to and from school.
Any sympathy from the state? Not here.
"That is the problem I have with the funding formula," Richie said. "They don't take into account the makeup of the district and the difference that one district may have over another district."
And that's why Northland Pines is asking YOU to see the difference…and make sure they can stay ahead of the curve.
Technology director Scott Foster says it's not just about having the latest tech toys. Next year, the district may add Chinese language classes.
"We really emphasize providing a 21st century education for our students and connecting them to the global society. And with technology, we're allowed to do that," Foster said.
But even closer to home, technology matters.
"If a community member reflects on their job now even compared to five years ago... there isn't a job out there that hasn't been impacted by technology in any way," Foster said.
And in the long run, technology should save time. And time saves money.
It always comes across as expensive. But really, if you're enacting technology properly, you should be doing it do gain efficiencies in our instruction or the way we do our jobs here as educators.
Pines hosted informational meetings in January and posted slideshows, videos and flyers online. It's a lot of information. But what Richie really wants you to remember?
"This referendum is about what makes this school district a quality school district," Richie said.
RHINELANDER - Thursday Rhinelander turned into the city of lights. The Light of the Northwoods kicked off its drive-through light show at Hodag Park today. "We never got to do anything like this when I was a kid," said volunteer Corey Passmore. However, Passmore's son will get the chance to experience a Christmas in a way his father was never able to. "As far as I can think back we've never had anything like this in Rhinelander," said Passmore. Months of preparation, hundreds of hours setting up, and more than a dozen creative minds helped create magic in Rhinelander. "Symbolizes an opportunity for community to come together," said YMCA of the Northwoods CEO Ryan Zietlow.
RHINELANDER - It costs nearly $240,000 to run Rhinelander's homeless shelter every year.
Frederick Place got an extra boost this month to help cover those costs with two grants totaling $8,000.
"With our just shy of $240,000 annual operating budget, we typically only get $40,000 from the state and federal government. So we are raising that $200,000 every single year," said NATH Executive Director Tammy Modic.
RHINELANDER - The initial emergency call -- someone screaming for help on a lake near Rhinelander Thursday afternoon -- sounded bad, but it appears it was a false alarm.
Search and rescue crews called in Newbold's air boat to search Lake Thompson around 1:45 p.m.
Pelican Deputy Fire Chief Norman Peterson said first responders first searched the west bay shoreline on foot. They then used the air boat to sweep the entire lake, but didn't find anyone, any tracks, or any places someone might have gone through the ice.
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