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Will It Pass? - Looking at school district referendums: Northland PinesSubmitted: 02/07/2013
Story By Lex Gray & Kira Lynne


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.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/29/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Merrill leaders decided not to discipline City Administrator Dave Johnson and Fire Chief Dave Savone for taking items from the Lincoln County Fairgrounds that some people considered historic and valuable. Merrill Mayor Bill Bealecki issued a statement to the media saying that although Johnson and Savone didn't violate city policy, their actions were in poor judgment. We'll hear from Johnson on what he thinks about the statement.

The Northwoods area has seen several cases of deer poaching in the last week, and most of them were not caught. But authorities recently caught two teenagers in the act thanks to neighbors in the Lakeland area. You'll hear from the Conservation Ward Supervisor on how they were caught.

And, we'll tell you about a local company that is transferring ownership to all of the employees.

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

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ONEIDA COUNTY - No matter the weather, a glass of wine can be enjoyed year round. Even in the bitter cold, there are wineries in Oneida County that still offer tastings and wine tours.

"When people think of a winery, they do think of grape wines. They're kind of surprised, pleasantly surprised when they come to our winery and see fruit wines," said Terri Schenck from Three Lakes Winery.

The Oneida County wineries are a little bit different than what you'd see in Napa Valley.

"It is a farm so we are working on different crops, black currants, apples and an experimental vineyard," said Linda Welbes from Brigadoon Winery in Tripoli.

With the unique flavors of wines, Three Lakes Winery and Brigadoon Winery often see a lot of visitors from out of town.

"They usually say, 'I didn't know how much I needed this.' They relax, they unwind whether it's summer time or fall, just to sit outdoors when it's beautiful, it's peaceful, it's quiet," said Welbes.

Three Lakes Winery has a lot of history behind their building. 

"The actual winery itself is an old Chicago Northwestern Train Depot that was built in 1880. There was a tornado or wind storm that happened in 1924 that destroyed the building," said Schenck.

The building was rebuilt shortly after. Every fall the winery hosts cranberry marsh tours.

"There are several bogs in the area and it's interesting for people to be able to go and see a bog and see how the cranberries are harvested and what goes into making cranberry wine," said Schenck.

With winter right around the corner, the crops won't be producing much.

"The crops, they are what they are. It's farming so there's not much you have to do and you just hope for good weather. Lots of snow cover, that helps," said Welbes.

The Three Eagle Trail runs right into the parking lot of Three Lakes Winery. That brings in a lot of traffic year-round.

"In the winter time it turns into the snowmobile trail. We will get a lot of snowmobile traffic in the winter time and a lot of foot traffic, hiking, biking people in the summer time," said Schenck.

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TOMAH - Wisconsin cranberry growers are expecting an above-average crop yield this year because of nearly ideal growing conditions.

Ed Grygleski is president of Valley Corp., a cranberry producer near Tomah in west central Wisconsin. He tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it has been a great year for growing because there has been plenty of sun without extreme heat.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - We likely won't see any more severe weather this year. But during any weather event, the National Weather Service relies on a group of volunteers to help keep us safe.

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EAGLE RIVER - After a year of revisions, Northland Pines High School will start a new policy in December: drug testing some of its students. 

The school board approved the new policy earlier this week.

For District Administrator Mike Richie, this is a way to stay proactive, helping both parents and students avoid drug addiction.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials have pushed back the release of updates to their chronic wasting disease plan until this spring.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Downtown Boulder Junction could look a little different in a few years. The Boulder Junction Town Board voted 2 to 1 to move onto the design phase of a town plaza project Tuesday night.

The design will cost about $25,000. Town Supervisor Dennis Duke said the plaza could have things like bathrooms, wifi, and places to sit.

Duke thinks the plaza would get people to spend more time downtown.

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