EAGLE RIVER - When you step into a Northland Pines school, you'll see laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks.
"I would say within five years, we may not even see a textbook in the the classroom anymore," Superintendent Mike Richie said. "It's going to be chromebooks, it's going to be ipads, and those kinds of things."
Even the schools themselves look shiny and new.
So you might ask yourself: why is this district asking taxpayers for more money?
Superintendent Mike Richie says there are a few answers to that question.
One goes all the way back to the early 90s, when the state funding formula started to change.
"That first base year to figure out what the cap would be for each district, it was actually based off the prior year. So any district in the state that was very frugal or did a great job with their tax levy was actually punished for future years," Richie said.
And Pines is frugal. The district stretched their last three year referendum to four years.
And this time, they're asking for $2.7 million per year instead of $2.9 million.
But there are still budget issues they can't get around.
Transportation costs are a huge issue here. While other districts are more compact, Northland Pines covers a large area, and that's why they spend $1.3 million per year just getting kids to and from school.
Any sympathy from the state? Not here.
"That is the problem I have with the funding formula," Richie said. "They don't take into account the makeup of the district and the difference that one district may have over another district."
And that's why Northland Pines is asking YOU to see the difference…and make sure they can stay ahead of the curve.
Technology director Scott Foster says it's not just about having the latest tech toys. Next year, the district may add Chinese language classes.
"We really emphasize providing a 21st century education for our students and connecting them to the global society. And with technology, we're allowed to do that," Foster said.
But even closer to home, technology matters.
"If a community member reflects on their job now even compared to five years ago... there isn't a job out there that hasn't been impacted by technology in any way," Foster said.
And in the long run, technology should save time. And time saves money.
It always comes across as expensive. But really, if you're enacting technology properly, you should be doing it do gain efficiencies in our instruction or the way we do our jobs here as educators.
Pines hosted informational meetings in January and posted slideshows, videos and flyers online. It's a lot of information. But what Richie really wants you to remember?
"This referendum is about what makes this school district a quality school district," Richie said.
ANTIGO - People around the country will see just how much a police officer killed in the line of duty meant to his family and community.
Karl's Transport in Antigo revealed its newest semi-trailer design Tuesday afternoon. The trailer features Everest Metro Detective Jason Weiland. Weiland, 40, was shot and killed in a shooting rampage around the Wausau area on March 22, 2017.
EAGLE RIVER - Several Northwoods schools wanted to make it clear to their students Wednesday, there's always someone there to talk to. Anti-Bullying and suicide prevention speaker Bob Lenz spoke at Three Lakes and Northland Pines high schools Wednesday. Northland Pines Dean of Students Josh Tilley said he hopes students walk away from the talk knowing they can reach out to at least one person when they feel alone.
"Over the last few years, we've been bringing speakers in, national, local and state speakers so that we can really help our students understand that if they feel different they have the opportunity to be an individual, but if it's hurting them they can get help," said Tilley. Northland Pines staff members recently looked closely at their relationships with students by reviewing class rosters. They want to make sure all students have support.
MARATHON COUNTY - Two important Wisconsin products won't benefit from a possible trade war. It will likely hurt them. Last month President Trump placed tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports. China came back and slapped tariffs on more than 100 U.S. products. The motives are political. But the effects trickle down to hurt local economies.
When it comes to growing ginseng, nobody does it quite like Marathon County.
"Wisconsin ginseng is sort of the cream of the crop when it comes to American ginseng," said Hsu's Ginseng Enterprises Director of Operations Mike Klemp-North.
Ninety percent of the U.S.'s ginseng crop is grown in Wisconsin. Ninety-five percent of that crop is grown in Marathon County.
MADISON - The Legislature's finance committee is giving the Department of Corrections more money to cover prisoner health care.
The agency was budgeted $80.6 million in fiscal year 2017-18 to inmate health care but now expects to spend $90.7 million thanks to rising drug costs, more hospital visits for the prison system's aging inmate population and rising contract nurse costs.
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