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

Will It Pass? - Looking at school district referendums: Northland Pines
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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MERRILL - When you live to be 100, you often often outlive your friends and even family members.

Lenore Ehlert, from Merrill, turned 100 years old on Wednesday.

"Well, actually, it doesn't feel much different, it's just another day," said Ehlert.

While celebrating that milestone, she found herself thinking of her husband who she lost 65 years ago.

Her husband, Merrill Police Captain, Elmer Krueger was shot and killed while on duty in July of 1952.

"July 19th and he died about three days later," said Ehlert.

Records from that time show an officer's death didn't lead to weeks of ceremonies and salutes like it does now.

"After the funeral, everything was just kind of forgotten," said Ehlert.

But decades later, it's not all forgotten. Merrill police officers, members of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and other first responders were all at the party to show that they were bonded for life after the tragedy years ago.

"It really is truly, that Lenore is part of our family," said Michael Caylor with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

In addition to law enforcement, Governor Scott Walker, Congressman Sean Duffy and Attorney General Brad Schimel all wrote Lenore letters wishing her a happy birthday.

"It's quite an honor and I know part of it is for my husband and his memory," said Ehlert.

Elmer's memory was seen all throughout Lenore's special day.

"Know that you're part of the law enforcement family. Elmer was a brother, most of us didn't know him, but he's a brother nonetheless," said Lincoln County Sheriff, Jeff Jaeger.

She was surrounded by friends and family helping her celebrate her 100 years.

"If we're all to live as old and to be as loved as yourself, what a wonderful world this is going to be," said Caylor.

When asked for advice on how to live to be 100, Lenore said to keep your mind and body active, and to eat good food.

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