WAUSAU - Teachers started putting Common Core standards to work in Wisconsin classrooms three years ago.
No one really seemed to pay attention – Wisconsin had adopted the standards along with 44 other states, in part to qualify for billions of dollars in federal Race to the Top grants.
But in the last few months, legislators from Wisconsin and other states started looking more closely at Common Core.
Governor Scott Walker told reporters in late September he believed Wisconsin could do better than federal Common Core standards.
Over the last few weeks, special Senate and Assembly committees have held four public hearings to decide if that’s true.
The last of those four hearings happened in Wausau Wednesday, with testimony lasting more than seven hours.
The debate about Common Core, across the nation and in Wausau, has been marked by a different kind of bipartisanship – it’s not liberals on one side, conservatives on the other. Both sides are both for and against the standards.
Michael Petrilli is the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.
He spoke in favor of Common Core standards.
“There [are] plenty of Republicans who like the idea of higher standards and tougher accountability,” Petrilli said. “From our perspective, the Common Core standards are exactly that.”
Pete Biolo, a retired teacher and the vice chairman of the Oneida County Republican Party, doesn’t necessarily disagree with that. He takes issue with Common Core because of federal involvement.
“It’s a process or a program that has its roots at the federal level, and the federal government, in passing it, made federal monies available,” Biolo said. “Any time you have federal monies available to something, you have strings attached.”
Petrilli rejects that idea.
“I think the benefits of having better standards, better tests, outweigh those concerns,” Petrilli said.
Biolo disagrees, and wants Wisconsin to create its own set of standards, to get the federal government out. Governor Walker has also recently said the state could do better on its own.
“If the governor can do better than these standards, I think that’s great,” Petrilli said. “I think what he would find is if he went through the process of recreating standards, they’d come out quite the same as the Common Core.”
The Senate and Assembly’s special committees are expected to make a recommendation in November about what Wisconsin should do about Common Core.
Rhinelander intersection could get a permanent stop sign
RHINELANDER - Drivers might need to get used to a stop sign at one intersection in Rhinelander.
The City Council held a public hearing to decide if the temporary stop sign on Davenport and Sutliff should stay.
The stop sign was put up at the three-way intersection during a construction project last summer.
"We put up a temporary stop sign because we had the closure on Kemp, and we sent all the traffic this way," says Rhinelander City Administrator Blaine Oborn. "Once we had the stop sign up, a lot of people in the community started voicing support for keeping it."
Members of the community voiced their support for or against the permanent stop sign at the public hearing.
"People who live on the west side over here go straight through, it slows them down a little bit by having to do a stop sign," says Oborn. "The people on Sutliff that have to make a left or right turn, they really favor the three-way stop sign here because it makes it a lot safer for them."
The permanent signs could be in place in the next couple of weeks if the council approves the move.
TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk School District will need to make big budget cuts in the next year. The district will need to cut more than $500,000. Rising transportation costs along with declining enrollments challenge many Northwoods School Districts.
“We have a lot of issues in Northern Wisconsin that many districts in the state of Wisconsin don't have,” says Cheryl Baker, Tomahawk School District Superintendent. “For instance in the Tomahawk School District there's about 425 and I'm rounding that off, square miles of terrain that has to be covered everyday two times a day to pick kids up, to bring them to school, and to take them home.”
“That cost is our cost,” says Baker.
The school district does not plan to cut any electives. Instead they are moving from an 8 to a 7 period day.
“We're moving from an 8 period day to a 7 period day purely for economic reasons,” says Baker. “In other words had we not gone to the 7 period day for next year we would have had to of cut entire classes, electives, and or start cutting down teachers full time positions.”
The school district will also need to cut its full time social worker.
RHINELANDER - Warm temperatures and lingering snow on roofs doesn't make for a good combination. Around 3 this afternoon the weight of the snow on the roof of the Elbo Room caused major damage to the building.
The awning to the building fell down onto the Brown Street sidewalk. It's important to remember to how dangerous heavy snowfall left on roofs can be this time of year.
“Well with this heavy snowfall this winter there's a lot of snow load with warm weather today the snow melting it created a lot of weight and it can damage structures with all the weight from the snow,” says Josh Schmitz, Rhinelander Fire Deptartment Deputy Chief.
No one was injured in the collapse. The fire department is not sure when cleanup will begin.
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.
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