Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

State Dem candidates use Merrill elementary school to attack Walker on education; district says declining enrollment, not governor's actions, led to need for referendumSubmitted: 09/05/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

State Dem candidates use Merrill elementary school to attack Walker on education; district says declining enrollment, not governor's actions, led to need for referendum
MERRILL - Top state Democrats used Merrill schools in a bold attack on Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday.

At the Merrill press event, they said Walker's education policies put two district elementary schools on the brink of closure.

But the district says those claims aren't quite true.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said Merrill's Jefferson Elementary School was put in jeopardy by Walker.


"Clearly, Scott Walker's plan is harming education," Laning said. "The school that is right behind us here was almost a casualty of his plan."

It's true Jefferson Elementary would have closed if a spring 2018 referendum in Merrill had failed. That spending referendum easily passed, and Jefferson stayed open.

But was it fair to pin the tight situation on Walker education cuts in the early 2010s?

Merrill Superintendent Dr. John Sample says enrollment numbers, not moves by the governor, led to the referendum.

"Our referendum was based on our numbers. Our enrollment is declining," said Sample. "For us to be able to maintain the quality service that we provide our students, and, inevitably, our parents, we were looking at a referendum."

He agreed when asked if Wednesday's Democratic comments were tied to politics, not facts given by the district.

"We were continuing to decline," Sample said. "That was the primary purpose for us going to referendum."

Mandela Barnes, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, also spoke at the event.

Asked three times, he wouldn't say whether the campaign had contacted Merrill schools to ask whether Walker's policies had forced its referendum.

"Merrill, like so many other school districts, have had to go to referendum because of declining state aid," Barnes said.

Sample said the Democratic campaign didn't even tell Merrill schools it would be holding a press event in front of Jefferson Elementary.

A Democratic staffer took Laning away before we could ask her questions on camera.

The Democratic campaign also stopped at schools in the Green Bay and La Crosse areas on Wednesday. It said the tour visited districts forced to go to referendum because of Walker's cuts to education.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Rhinelander Firefighters wanted to teach kids in Rhinelander about fire prevention and did just that. More than 800 children got that education last month.

Fire prevention week was October. But Rhinelander Fire Chief Terry Williams wanted his department to make it a month long project.

"We focus hard on getting into the schools and working with the school aged children," said Williams. "Anywhere from daycare up to fifth grade is really our target audience."

Younger children enjoyed games such as "hot or not" and "friendly firefighter."

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Downtown Rhinelander will be a little brighter this holiday season.

The Rhinelander Community Foundation (RCF) donated a $13,000 grant to make this happen.

The grant will be used for new downtown street lights. Downtown lighting is an ongoing project for Downtown Rhinelander Inc.

Pat LaPorte of The Design Committee says they are hoping to add more than just lights.

"It's expensive and it's a community thing," said LaPorte. "We are certainty grateful for the people that have contributed. We still have a ways to go, but it's getting there."

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - Nearly half of the entire state of Wisconsin voted this month. November's midterm election brought out more voters than usual. But after all those ballots are cast, there are a few rules about what happens to them. Carrying those rules out takes a lot of teamwork. 

After all the ballots are cast on Election Day, they end up at a county clerk's office. Vilas County Clerk Dave Alleman says ballots most must be kept for 22 months but that presidential elections are kept a little longer.

"If for any reason, let's say for a recount. We'd have to open the bags, we'd have to have authority to do that, and then of course they'd have to be resealed and signed off again," said Alleman.

But moving ballots all isn't always easy.

"They can get heavy at times," said Alleman.

"It takes a lot of people to get these from one place to another," said Rhinelander City Clerk Val Foley. 
 
Before the ballots get to county clerks, it's up to the town and city clerks to get them there. Foley says on election night officials from each polling place will bring their ballots in large boxes.

"They get locked on each side with a padlock so that they're secure," said Foley.

City Hall employees then organize the ballots into dozens of bags, before taking them to the county clerk by 4 p.m. the day after the election.

"You have to do it by truck," said Foley. "We get the buildings and grounds gentlemen to help with that." 

Once the 22-month period is up, the ballots are destroyed. Alleman and his coworkers destroy them with an industrial shredder.

"Chops them up into tiny, tiny little bits," said Alleman.

He says that process can take a couple days. Until then, the ballots will stay safe and sound at the county clerk's office.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A handful of women in Rhinelander want to make sure everyone stays warm this chilly season.

The women want to be identified as "Secret Santas."

About 20 scarfs that appear to be handmade are stapled to street posts all along Lincoln Street.

The scarfs come in variety of colors with a note that state, "If you are cold…need one, take one".

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Cold weather and some early November snow means it's almost time for ski season to start. 

The Camp 10 Ski Area in Rhinelander is preparing to make snow so it can open for skiers and snowboarders.

+ Read More

MINNEAPOLIS - An environmental group has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve federal protections for gray wolves and force the agency to develop a national recovery plan for the species.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, a day after the service denied the group's petition for a nationwide recovery plan. The service said its regional approach meets the legal requirements.

+ Read More

MADISON - Another Republican state senator is raising concerns with a $100 million tax break bill for paper products giant Kimberly-Clark Corp.

State Sen. Luther Olsen said Wednesday during a public hearing on the measure that he's "not convinced that this is the right thing for the state to do."

The Assembly passed the bill in February but it's stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate due to lack of votes. Three other Republicans have previously publicly opposed the bill.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here