WABENO - In February, taxpayers voted to give three local school districts enough money to keep their programs going.
Next week, for the first time ever, Wabeno will ask their taxpayers to do the same.
The district has asked for more money for building referendums.
But up until this point, they’ve been able to maintain their programs by making $1 million dollars in cuts over the past 10 years.
Now, superindent Kim Odekirk says any further cuts will jeopardize the quality of education Wabeno can offer.
Mary Propson teaches her first grade class wearing a microphone. That’s because she has seven special education students in her class of 17. One is hearing impaired.
Wabeno is asking taxpayers for $3.85 million dollars over the next three years. If the district doesn’t get it, chances are even more students will be packed into Propson’s class.
“I would lose personal contact with every student. Even 17 is a large amount of students to work with every student sufficiently,” Propson said. “ If it goes up more, students that are quiet and not as demanding are going to get less of my attention, and they deserve my attention like all of the other students.”
You probably remember class sizes much larger than 17 kids. But Odekirk says education has changed.
“The amount of mandates and the kinds of things that we need to accomplish with kids in the classroom now are very different from what they were 25 or even 30 years ago,” she said. “In order to meet the needs of all our learners, we cannot have those large class sizes.”
“Education is getting harder and harder, there are more demands to meet,” Propson said. “If you look back as an older adult, you’d say “I can’t believe they’re learning that in first grade now.” We are learning a lot of things as the students grow at younger ages, and the demands of the world are greater.”
Without that $3.85 million, the district faces more than just bigger class sizes. The board would look at cutting electives like music, art, and tech ed. But why should taxpayers have to pay for those extras?
“The extras are their basic education. Life isn’t just reading a book,” Propson said. “Sports are important, students learn life skills in sports, how to get along, how to work as a team, what to do if you lose. Because those are all learning experiences.”
Odekirk says if this referendum fails, the district will hold an election again next year. If it fails again, the district would likely be shut down by the state within a year, and students would go to surrounding districts.
Rhinelander intersection could get a permanent stop sign
RHINELANDER - Drivers might need to get used to a stop sign at one intersection in Rhinelander.
The City Council held a public hearing to decide if the temporary stop sign on Davenport and Sutliff should stay.
The stop sign was put up at the three-way intersection during a construction project last summer.
"We put up a temporary stop sign because we had the closure on Kemp, and we sent all the traffic this way," says Rhinelander City Administrator Blaine Oborn. "Once we had the stop sign up, a lot of people in the community started voicing support for keeping it."
Members of the community voiced their support for or against the permanent stop sign at the public hearing.
"People who live on the west side over here go straight through, it slows them down a little bit by having to do a stop sign," says Oborn. "The people on Sutliff that have to make a left or right turn, they really favor the three-way stop sign here because it makes it a lot safer for them."
The permanent signs could be in place in the next couple of weeks if the council approves the move.
Snow on an overhang causes damage to downtown building
RHINELANDER - Warm temperatures and lingering snow on roofs doesn't make for a good combination.
Around 3 p.m. Monday, the weight of the snow on the roof of the building next to the Elbo Room in Rhinelander caused major damage to the building.
The awning to the building fell down onto the Brown Street sidewalk.
Fire leaders say it's important to remember to how dangerous heavy snowfall left on roofs can be this time of year.
“Well with this heavy snowfall this winter there's a lot of snow load with warm weather today the snow melting it created a lot of weight and it can damage structures with all the weight from the snow,” says Josh Schmitz, Rhinelander Fire Deptartment Deputy Chief.
No one was injured in the collapse. The fire department is not sure when cleanup will begin.
------------------------ An earlier version of this story indicated that the facade of the Elbo Room awning had fallen. That was incorrect. It was the building next to the Elbo Room. That has been corrected in the story above.
MADISON - A bill that would allow Wisconsin schools to extend school days and shorten school years to save money is up for a vote in the Senate this week.
The bill would get rid of the requirement that schools teach for 180 days or lose state funding. Schools are still required to teach the same number of hours under the bill.
Another change under the law allows the state Department of Public Instruction to fund remedial courses and interim school sessions. The package is being viewed as a cost saving measure for districts that have seen state funding decrease in recent years.
Three Democrats joined the bill's Republican sponsors, and DPI and other education groups have voiced strong support for the proposal.
TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk School District will need to make big budget cuts in the next year. The district will need to cut more than $500,000. Rising transportation costs along with declining enrollments challenge many Northwoods School Districts.
“We have a lot of issues in Northern Wisconsin that many districts in the state of Wisconsin don't have,” says Cheryl Baker, Tomahawk School District Superintendent. “For instance in the Tomahawk School District there's about 425 and I'm rounding that off, square miles of terrain that has to be covered everyday two times a day to pick kids up, to bring them to school, and to take them home.”
“That cost is our cost,” says Baker.
The school district does not plan to cut any electives. Instead they are moving from an 8 to a 7 period day.
“We're moving from an 8 period day to a 7 period day purely for economic reasons,” says Baker. “In other words had we not gone to the 7 period day for next year we would have had to of cut entire classes, electives, and or start cutting down teachers full time positions.”
The school district will also need to cut its full time social worker.
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