The chair of the Assembly Speaker's Task Force on Rural School thinks some sought after changes asked by educators will come out of the effort. The bipartisan Task Force was put together to hear from educators and parents about the challenges facing rural schools.
Representative Rob Swearingen says after touring the state he came away with greater knowledge on the challenges facing rural schools. He says lack of broadband access hurts students, citing Eagle River area schools as an example..
"....the students at Northland Pines, literally five miles from the high school, they're back on dial-up connections...I know there's a Northwoods Broadband Coalition and they're working on this as well...but the legislature has to step up and provide some kind of incentive to get these providers deeper into the Northwoods...."
The Rhinelander Republican says Antigo schools spend nearly $2 million per year on transportation costs, while Rhinelander and Northland Pines spend roughly $1.5 million. He says that money should go to educate students.
The report provided a number of recommendations, including allowing smaller schools located close to each other to "share students"...
"....to make sure both schools survive you could send all the students from one town to one district for, say, grades 2.3.4. You could then send the remaining students to the other school district for grades 18.104.22.168, and 8......"
Swearingen says any action of the many recommendations are likely to come out of the next budget cycle, if not before in stand alone, legislation. You can find more from the report by Googling Wisconsin Rural Schools Task Force.