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Rural Schools Task Force recommendations expected by AprilSubmitted: 03/09/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson


RHINELANDER - Superintendents at rural schools face challenges like growing poverty, declining enrollment, and high transportation costs.

The State Assembly formed the Rural Schools Task Force to find ways to help.

12 members of the State Assembly make up the task force.

They've traveled to schools around the state for the last six months.

They made two stops in the Northwoods.

The task force turned to superintendents, business leaders, and other community members to learn more about the challenges the schools and communities face.

The state did increase funding for schools in their most recent
budget.

But some rural school superintendents said the $150 per student budget increase this year wasn't enough.

They want the state's funding formula to change.

"Initially when we brought the task force together, the task force was charged to find solutions that didn't necessarily - weren't fiscal. And so what we found is these school districts are doing the best they can with the money they have. And unfortunately, a lot of these solutions will be fiscal. And so that could potentially be pointing to the next budget cycle," said Republican Rep. Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander, the Rural Schools Task Force Chair.

He says high transportation costs, poor broadband service, declining enrollment and lower teacher retention rates will most likely be addressed in the recommendations.

"The report is going to be generated hopefully here in the next week or so by legislative council. And then the task force will get a chance to look at the report and give our final recommendations to Speaker Vos."

The report is expected to come out at the end of this month or the beginning of April.

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WAUSAU - In less than two weeks, Wisconsin voters will head to the polls to vote in the state's primary.

That's why former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) is encouraging people to vote on August 9th.

He faces another democratic senate candidate Scott Harbach from Kenosha.

"I wouldn't say I'm nervous but I take nothing for granted," Feingold said at a Wausau event on Wednesday. 
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If Feingold wins the election, he faces incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in November.

A recent Marquette University Law School poll shows Feingold leading. The link is posted below.

But Feingold said he doesn't want to get too hung up on the numbers.

"I don't want to get really serious about polling, that isn't the way that I've ever conducted myself," Feingold said. "What I do is go out to listen to people and find out directly not through polling what people are thinking and how they're feeling."

A third candidate named Phillip Anderson is also running for the same senate seat. He is a libertarian from Fitchburg.

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Wieland drove up to Stevens Point from northwestern Illinois to join her family at the UW-Stevens Point's  "American Suzuki Institute."

The week-long camp brings together more than 1,000 students and families to learn the Suzuki method.

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"Hardest thing I've ever done was to sit and watch," said Chris Moore.

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"I knew somebody had to do something," said Schroder.

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