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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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 This year it also gave a mother and daughter the chance to get even closer than they were before. 

During Fall Fest on Saturday Nicole Fondie felt a little déjà vu watching her daughter. 

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Saturday's viewing at Rouman Cinema in Rhinelander had a complementary showing of the episode.

The episode features otters that spent seven months with Rehabilitation Director Mark Naniot and his team.

The episode gives people a look into the life of an otter.

"Like everything else it's the web of life. Everything's all interconnected and even if it's just the pure enjoyment of watching an otter swim or catch a fish and seeing how playful they are sliding down a mudslide or sliding through the snow that alone is immeasurable really," said Naniot.

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