MERRILL - Merrill could be the newest local school district to rely on referendum money in its school budget.
The district faces a $1.8 million dollar operating deficit for next school year, and it has had to take from savings for years to keep the school running.
"We've been making cuts, and we've gotten in the habit of making cuts. Unfortunately, we became very good at making cuts," said Superintendent Dr. John Sample.
A consultant's survey got more than 1,600 responses from people in the district. It shows two-thirds of respondents support some sort of referendum to help pay for schools.
"The survey showed that most of the community gets that whether you've got children or grandchildren currently as a student in the district [or not], that the district needs the community just as much as the community needs the district," Sample said.
The most popular option was raising $2.5 million per year over the next four years to support the current level of operations and support some additional ones, like tech ed and maintenance.
"As much as I think I know the community, because I'm out in the community as much as I possibly can be, it was still a huge sigh of relief and a very pleasant surprise [with] the outcome of the survey," Sample said.
Merrill's school board could approve a referendum plan as soon as December 6. The referendum question would be on the April ballot.
MERRILL - Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill doesn't have room for any more kindergarten students next year.
Its class is already full, partly because some families can send their kids to Trinity for free.
For the third straight year, Trinity will participate in Wisconsin's private school choice program.
This year, the state pays tuition for about 30 of Trinity's 120 total students.
"Parents like the Christian base, obviously. That's the main reason people send [their kids] here," said School Administrator Kathy Yahr. "They're keeping them here more now because of the opportunities that we offer."
NORTHWOODS - Lakes and nature bring people from all over the country to the Northwoods during the summer. Those same attractions get some people to stay here. Home sales and home prices in the Northwoods went up in 2017.
The Wisconsin Realtors Association reports about 1,300 more homes sold last year than in 2016 in Wisconsin. A local broker saw the increase firsthand.
"The markets that are going crazy right now are premium homes. The Minocqua chain is red hot, the Eagle River chain is pretty hot the Three Lakes chain is pretty hot and there are some chains of lakes that are less hot," said Coldwell Banker broker Jim Mulleady.
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