RHINELANDER - Rural schools face different challenges than schools in suburbs and cities. State legislators say they want to understand what those challenges are, and how they might help.
Local state representative Rob Swearingen chairs the Rural Schools Task Force. Eleven other representatives make up the task force.
Their goal is to create legislation that will help rural schools. Today, the task force listened to superintendents from four local districts.
Their overwhelming message: the school funding formula needs to change. Most Northwoods districts get less state aid because they have high property values.
"It doesn't take into account the ability of our taxpayers to help with the funding of schools," said Kelli Jacobi, superintendent of the School District of Rhinelander. "As our state aid goes down, our taxpayers are expected to pay more, and our taxpayers can't afford to do that."
Swearingen says he hopes house speaker Robin Vos will listen to that. But the funding formula wasn't the purpose of the task force, and it won't be the focus.
"The focus of this group is to make sure the school districts are using the money they have more effectively, so that's part of the discussion. Clearly, the state doesn't have money to just throw at the districts," Swearingen said. "But if we can transfer some of this into categorical aid, something that specifically relates to these rural school problems, maybe we can address some of those financial issues."
Categorical aid could apply to costs like transportation. Three of the four superintendents who spoke today said that would be a big help.
Their districts are geographically large, so they spend huge amounts of money getting kids to and from school. Northland Pines spends $1.3 million every year. Rhinelander spends $1.5 million.
MADISON - If all this snow melts too quickly, there could be severe flooding in areas of Wisconsin.
That's according to the National Weather Service.
Steve Buan, the senior hydrologist for the North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minn., says the ripening flood conditions have been caused by higher-than-usual snowfall and frost depths nearing 8 feet in some places.
WAUSAU - Most magicians wow us with their tricks, but Magician Lou Lepore does more.
He teaches his audiences how to do some of the tricks he performs. He spent the last week as magician-in-residence at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau putting on magic shows and hosting workshops.
It was part of the museum's latest exhibit on Mystery, Magic and Mayhem.
Students from local schools visited him during his six-day residency as in-house magician.
"We had schools come in, and depending on the size of the kids, if it was about 20 or under we would do a class, an actual workshop with them and teach them magic," says Lepore. "You would teach them maybe a half a dozen tricks that they can use with friends and family and things like that. If it was more than 20 we did a show."
Lepore specializes in sleight of hand using items like cards or coins. He also dabbles in cabaret.
Lepore has been doing magic for more than 40 years, but this was his first time as an in-house magician.
"They said can you do an artist-in-residency, and I said I have no idea what that is, what do I do?" says Lepore. "They said you're gong to show your art form, being magic, and you're going to teach kids classes and do demonstrations and workshops. I said oh yeah, I've done that for fairs, festivals so I can do all that for you."
Two more magicians will perform at the museum through April.
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