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

Rural Schools Task Force recommendations expected by April
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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 06/28/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:


A week and a half ago a dive team pulled the body of a man who drowned while trying to save his girlfriend's eight-year-old son on the Wisconsin River in Wausau. A video of the scene prompted a Hall of Fame fishing guide from Hazelhurst to step up his efforts to lobby for life jacket safety laws. We talk to the guide about his reaction to the video and his battle to get a law passed.

Organizers of Leadership Oneida County are bringing the program back after they took a year off to revamp the program.

And we'll show you how some feathered friends are helping a Three Lakes cranberry grower get rid of weeds on the farmland.

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

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WAUSAU - Every year, firefighters around the country ask their communities to fill up boots with money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Wausau Fire Department kicked off its "Fill the Boot" campaign Tuesday morning.

The fire department will be at local events throughout the summer to collect donations.

The fundraiser helps with research and treatment for neuromuscular diseases for kids and adults.

"It's kind of a rewarding part of the job. Most of what we do is off camera, you don't really get to see all aspects of the fire department. It is a great chance for us to get out there and see all the programs we are involved in to help,"says firefighter Matt Tormohlen.

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FOREST COUNTY - Bringing your pet along to watch fireworks might seem like a fun way to spend the Fourth of July, but you could be doing more harm than good.

July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for most animal shelters.

That's because fearful pets try to escape the bangs and flashes from fireworks and end up lost.

Forest County Humane Society president Jay Schaefer says don't let yourself add to your pet's stress.

Play it down, and make the fireworks a good thing with positive talk and treats.

"They're reading cues from us constantly. So be careful of your body language and the cues you're giving them. If you act like fireworks are a big scary thing they're gonna be like, 'oh my god fireworks are scary,'" says Schaefer.

Exercise can be another way to calm your pet before the big light show.

Burning off the energy earlier in the day may help your pet go to sleep early.

"Take them for a jog on the Fourth of July. I know it's hectic, but do something so they're not all amped up at night when the fireworks go off," says Schaefer.

Like many humans, pets like the smell of lavender.

You can try diffusing the scent around the house to put your pet at ease.

Make sure you have a well-fitting collar and identification tag on your pet.

If flashes are too bright, you might want to close the curtains.

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CHETEK, WI - A preliminary report from federal aviation investigators says witnesses described hearing an engine backfire before a small plane crashed in Wisconsin last month, killing the teenage pilot and seriously injuring a passenger.

The Leader-Telegram reports that the National Transportation Safety Board interviewed several witnesses who were fishing in a pond near the Red Cedar River at the time of crash on May 24.

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MADISON - Democratic state Senator Kathleen Vinehout has registered to run for governor, the first step in officially launching a campaign.

Vinehout, of Alma, filed the paperwork on June 14 to register a campaign committee.

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MADISON - Republican legislative leaders and Governor Scott Walker are once again set to meet as a deal to pass the state's $76 billion budget remains elusive.

Walker was to meet privately Wednesday with Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

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WAUSAU - Drugs led to four arrests and one death in north-central Wisconsin on Monday.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office reports a 37-year-old Shawano man died after apparently overdosing on methamphetamine.  

Witnesses say 37-year-old Lucas Groshek and his wife, Carolyn, were shaking and convulsing in a car in the eastern Marathon County town of Norrie.  Mr. Groshek died before getting to the hospital.   Mrs. Groshek, 33, is in stable condition as of Tuesday afternoon.

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