WAUSAU - Field trips can be a fun way for students to spend the day outside the classroom. That’s especially important when the classroom is a computer at home.
Going on a field trip to a dairy farm would be a fun valuable learning experience for just about any kid. But for kids like Keegan Fischer, it’s even more valuable. That’s because Keegan goes to virtual school.
“I like going to a virtual school because I won’t be pressured by going into a real school, and actual physical school," says Keegan Fischer, a student at the Wisconsin Connection Academy. "Here I can take my time, and work whenever so it’s flexible for me anytime."
Wisconsin Connection Academy is also flexible for Keegan’s mom, Sarah Fischer.
“We choose Connections Academy because Keegan had health issues when he was smaller so he missed a lot of school," says Sarah Fischer. "This has been a good fit, it has worked great."
But the downside of virtual school is that students don’t get as much time to interact with each other. That’s why Keegan and his mom Sarah spent the day away from the computer.
“In a virtual school you’re not getting the same kind of socialization as if you’re going to a regular traditional bricks and mortar school,” says Jennifer Dikeman a Math teacher at Connections Academy.
“We put a lot of time and effort into these field trips and we really want our students to attend these so they can get out get out of the house get away from the computer and talk to other families that are here,” says Dikeman.
The field trip to Wilkes Farm is one of many throughout the school year.
“The field trips are a great place for students to just put names to faces as well as teachers," says Michele Lynch a social studies teacher at Connections Academy. "They get to meet their teachers we get to build more personal relationships find out more have good laughs with each other."
Future Wisconsin Project wants to bring more workers, manufacturers to Wisconsin
RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group held a seminar at Nicolet College in Rhinelander Tuesday, to plan how to make Wisconsin more attractive to skilled workers and manufacturing businesses.
WMC's president believes the shortage in younger people in the industry has to do with two big misconceptions about manufacturing.
"The younger kids, as do their parents, have a perception on what manufacturing looks like and it's about 40 years out of date. If you're in an advanced manufacturing facility now, it's clean, it's high-tech, the engineers and technicians are working together," said Jim Morgan."We have a perception problem. I think we still have a definition of success that's says unless you have a four-year degree, you're not successful."
Morgan says groups like WMC work to change that perception. He believes workers with a two-year degree are just as successful in the industry.
So far, WMC held seminars at nine other technical colleges. For Rhinelander, more manufacturers could mean more economic independence.
"The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce is looking to see how it can help and partner with local manufacturers to make the Rhinelander area a more favorable place for them to locate their businesses, as well as to attract and retain skilled workers to make those businesses successful," said Dana DeMet, Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce director.
Over the next six months, WMC will continue to look for ways to attract more workers and businesses to the state.
In December, it hopes to have 1000 representatives for a meeting in Milwaukee focusing on how manufacturing will benefit the state.
WMC also works with the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
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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