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.
- We take our Long Summer Weekend to Tomahawk to bring you the following stories:
We talk to the Tomahawk School District superintendent and a parent about how the district is getting input from the community regarding an application for a state grant for security upgrades in their school.
We'll show you how the Tomahawk Clay Busters youth team is teaching kids trap shooting and gun safety at an early age.
And the Tomahawk police chief is staying loyal to the Pittsburgh Steelers even here in Packer country. We'll show you how the avid Steelers fan exhibits his support for his team and talk to him about how it's being received by the community and his wife...who is a Cowboys fan.
We'll bring you the details on these stories and more on our Long Summer Weekend tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live,
MADISON - The Wisconsin Elections Commission has agreed to lift overseas ballot restrictions to avoid a legal battle.
The U.S. Department of Justice warned earlier this month that it's preparing to sue because Wisconsin law doesn't let temporary overseas voters to obtain ballots electronically or to submit downloadable back-up ballots in case they don't have time to return an official ballot.
Federal law allows all overseas voters to obtain ballots electronically and submit back-up ballots. Assembly Republicans passed a bill that would have aligned Wisconsin's statutes with the federal law but the measure died in April after Senate Republicans added language limiting special legislative elections.
MADISON - Wisconsin Elections Commission staff plan to hire a half-dozen new employees and upgrade software to bolster election security.
The commission received a $7 million federal grant in March to upgrade security after Russian actors tried to access a state Department of Workforce Development system before the 2016 election.
Staff told the commission Thursday that the Department of Administration has approved hiring six new four-year security positions, including an information technology project manager, an elections security trainer and a voting systems specialist.
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