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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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 IN OTHER NEWS

THREE LAKES - You may soon be able to ride your ATV on parts of State Highway 32 in Three Lakes.

That's if the state DOT approves it in the next few weeks.

The Three Lakes Nicolet ATV Club wants to connect downtown Three Lakes to the Nicolet National Forest.

To do that they need to open up parts of a six-mile portion of Highway 32 from Town Road X or Javen Road to Lake Julia Road.

"That's what we're trying to get the hub of downtown Three Lakes connected, the businesses along 32 connected and then everyone into the forest, the national forest," said Mark Kirby, the Three Lakes Nicolet ATV Club spokesperson. 

Last week the Three Lakes town board approved the ATV route.

Most of the highway is 35 miles per hour. 

"There's a lot of activity around here and we need to get these businesses supported by ATVers and UTVers in the area," Kirby said. 

Three Lakes allows ATVs on its town roads. The town also opened a small part of Highway 45 this year as well. That stretch goes from Crystal Lake Road to North Big Lake Loop.

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ST. GERMAIN - The unofficial start to the summer season in the Northwoods will be this Memorial Day Weekend.

That means our lakes will be busy and piers will be in use.

Pier of d'Nort steps up to that demand.

The idea for Pier of d'Nort came to owner Carl Surges after he installed his parents pier.

The business started in Hartford, Wisconsin in the mid 2000s. Then it relocated a few years later to St. Germain.

Now Pier of d'nort is swamped with orders this time of year.

"It's very busy, yeah pretty much most folks want to put their peer in and have it in by Memorial weekend so this is the week before that and we are extremely busy," said Surges.

It's busy and loud in the shop. Pier of d'Nort ships piers all the way from Alaska to Greece.

15 workers man stations turning out the pieces for a new pier.

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MADISON - Wisconsin is joining a multi-state lawsuit against the Obama administration over its directive to U.S. public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

The lawsuit was announced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and filed in federal court in Texas on Wednesday.

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LANGLADE COUNTY - Langlade County wants to become the new home for the state's forestry headquarters.

Lawmakers have asked the DNR to consider moving headquarters from Madison to Northern Wisconsin.

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ASHLAND COUNTY - Investigators want to know what caused a car crash in Ashland County Tuesday morning that killed a Northland College student.

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MADISON - The state Department of Natural Resources board has unanimously approved shrinking the number of counties where hunters can shoot only bucks this fall.

The board signed off Wednesday on a fall season framework that makes 10 northern Wisconsin counties buck-only. That's down from 19 counties in 2014 and 12 last year.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 05/25/2016

- A change in the prison system means that Oneida County will make roughly an extra million-dollars a year. Tonight we'll tell you about the change and why it will provide more money for the county.

- Plus, Lincoln County will need to fill a vacancy soon at the district attorney's office.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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