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One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Down to Northwoods School ReferendaSubmitted: 04/03/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


NORTHWOODS - Two school districts in the Northwoods may be facing tough times after failed spending referendum votes Tuesday.

But one district is feeling good about its financial prospects.

Close votes left school administrators in the three districts nervous until final results were tallied late Tuesday night.

The School District of Phillips wanted $650,000 each year for the next five years.

Voters rejected the referendum by just seven votes.

A few absentee ballots are still out in Phillips.

The tally will probably go to a recount.

"No matter what happens with a recount, if that happens, we do know that we have a split community on the issue. I think that's something we need to respect," says Phillips Superintendent Wally Leipart.

If that result stands, Phillips will need to cut an extra half-million dollars from their school budget.

Voters in the Wabeno area also refused to pay more on their property taxes.

They rejected their referendum by 34 votes.

"I was a little bit surprised. I had anticipated that it was going to be a very close vote, but I was hopeful that it would have gone in the right direction. I wasn't shocked, but I was surprised," says Wabeno Area Superintendent Dr. Kim Odekirk.

Wabeno will go to referendum again next year.

If that fails, the district will likely close.

One school district in the Northwoods got good funding news.

Voters in Elcho approved an extra $400,000 a year for four years.

"Our goal was to get the information out to the voters on what the district needs were. Ultimately, we trust in their judgement," says Bill Fisher, Elcho's Superintendent.

The money will allow Elcho to continue its academic and community programs at their current level.

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