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NEWS STORIES

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

MARATHON COUNTY - The search for a man on the run ended with the suspect shooting himself.

Marathon County Deputies were looking for someone wanted in Clark County after a gun was fired.

The car that person was in was later spotted between Athens and Edgar.

While police were waiting for backup, the man stopped the car and ran into the woods.

Deputies and a police K9 tracked the man for close to an hour.

They eventually found him in the back of a semi-trailer.

The man was armed with a hand gun.

Deputies told him to drop the gun, but he shot himself instead.

Outside agencies will be brought in to handle the investigation.

The man's name has not yet been released.

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KENNAN - When you hear the word "mush," you may think of huskies pulling sleds in the winter, but in the summer, sled dogs often are still hard at work practicing for races in the snow.

It's called dryland dog sledding.

The Baum Family of Price County is particularly passionate about it. So passionate that they will host its first dryland derby on their farm this October. They expect to have about 70 racers from all over the world.

It's an international sport, and it can be very physically demanding.

"You start when they're a puppy," said Ailena Baum, a dryland dog musher. "Some of it's sled dog culture, the older dogs teach it to the younger dogs."

The Baums have been sled dog racing for years and they practice on their farm near Catawba. For them, dog sledding is part of their family. They travel together for races, and they practice together.

Ailena Baum introduced her husband to the sport when they first met. Now he says he is just as passionate.

"I was impressed," said Dan Bocock, Ailena Baum's husband. "I was hooked."

They say it takes the whole family to raise the dogs, spending at least a few hours a day feeding them, giving them water and training them.

When the Baum girls were young, they started running dogs. About 10 years ago, they bred huskies for sledding. Now, they have 13 huskies.

"And we're going through about a couple tons of food every year, and it's got to be high quality food," Baum said. "When we buy food, I mean, I think it's costing us about $55 for a 45 lb. bag of food."

The dryland derby is open to the public and will take place at the Baum Farm on October 17-18. 

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

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RHINELANDER - Resort owners in the Northwoods often collect stories from their guests, but rarely do guests teach owners about the history of their own resort.

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That was the inspiration behind Food for the Mind. 

Pauline Doucette started it ten years ago. 

The group gives out children's books at local food pantries, like Rhinelander, Tomahawk, and Antigo.

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FOX LAKE, IL - Even with 100 investigators on the ground for a second day, authorities in northern Illinois acknowledge they have no indication that three suspects wanted in the gun-slaying of an officer are still in the area.

Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko says the officer provided no concrete description of the men he was pursuing on foot before he was shot, except to tell dispatchers that two of them were white and one was black.

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MILWAUKEE - A survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago says the value of Wisconsin farmland in its district fell about 2 percent from April through June.

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