Northland Pines

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A second of three public information meetings on the proposed $3.9 million Northland Pines school district referendum for the next three years scheduled for a vote Feb. 16 was held last night at the Land O' Lakes elementary school before a small group of school employees and three members of the public.

Northland Pines Discusses Drug Testing Policy

Jan 6, 2016
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A proposed drug testing policy for Northland Pines students participating in organized school activities or who drive to school was set aside Tuesday by the school board's Policy Committee and will not be presented to the full board for consideration at this time.

Both staff and committee members felt more information was needed with discussions with health and legal sources. As proposed, students would be randomly selected for testing with results confidential and destroyed upon graduation. Policy committee chairperson Holly McCormick wanted more discussion.

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Enrollment in three charter schools in the Northland Pines school district will begin Jan. 4 according to recent reports  by district administrators.

The three charter schools are the School of Options and Applied Research, SOAR, for both middle and high school and the Montessori charter school for children for grades 4k-4.

The SOAR middle school in Land O' Lakes will host parents Jan. 5 and SOAR high school in Eagle River will host parents Jan. 7, both times starting at 6:30 p.m. Middle school SOAR is capped at 57 students while high school SOAR has no cap at this time.

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Random drug testing for Northland Pines students engaged in school activities or driving to school will take place under a policy being considered for adoption in order to deter students from using drugs and offer remediation and treatment to students identified that are.

“We want to show the community we care about students and are serious about illicit drug use,” high school principal Jim Brewer said.

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Not every student attends a four-year university, and school districts should be preparing students for career as well as academic paths—starting in 6th grade. That’s the argument behind the Academic and Career Planning program, mandated in all schools in Wisconsin starting in 2017.  Northland Pines is one of 25 schools in the state taking part in a pilot program that starts this fall.

The Northland Pines School Board met last night to discuss the proposal to move the 7th and 8th grades into the high school next year. A dozen community members weighed in with passionate opinions and prepared statements, coming down evenly for and against. Those in favor of the proposal called for people to trust the school board, such as 3rd and 4thgrade teacher Gretchen Yagow:  

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Parents have a chance to hear more about a controversial plan to move Northland Pines middle school students to the high school.  An informational session is scheduled Monday night at 6:30 pm at the Northland Pines high school.

A petition asking the Northland Pines school board to stop all plans to combine grades 7 and 8 with high school students has garnered more than 900 signatures. David Eliason --a St. Germain business owner and father of two—was one of the people involved in creating the petition. 

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Northland Pines School District has a new vacation this school year. Students and teachers will have the whole week off at Thanksgiving for deer season. 

Last year, nearly 200 students in the Northland Pines middle school and high school were absent from school on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break, many of them to take part in the 9-day deer hunting season. That’s nearly 15% of the district student body. This year, the Northland Pines School District responded by adjusting its vacation schedule accordingly. As superintendent Dr. Mike Richie explains,

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A new Montessori school is set to open next year in St. Germain. The district is taking applications starting next week.

The Northland Pines Montessori Learning Center will span 4K through second grade, with 3rd and 4th grade to be added in 2016. When paired with the new project-based learning program SOAR in Land o’Lakes, students will soon have the opportunity to attend 4K through 12th grade in an alternative learning environment.

Northland Pines School District

The impact of dwindling state school aids in the Northwoods is shown in a recent Department of Public Instruction report.

Many  schools received substantial hits in revenue.

Rhinelander schools saw their aid drop $565,000 to just over $3 million dollars, the sixth highest percentage drop in the report. Wabeno had the fourth highest percentage drop, though the dollar total was lower, at $41,000. Tomahawk lost nearly $300,000, Many districts not in the Northwoods saw their revenue increase. Three Lakes lost $9.200 and Phelps about $1,500.

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School is finally out for the summer, for most students.  Mercer has its last day Friday.  Northland Pines and Rhinelander school districts finished Thursday.  Several other districts like Three Lakes and Tomahawk finished last week. 

It was a long year for many students, thanks to canceled days of school during the winter months.

Northland Pines District Administrator Mike Richie says rain and cloudy weather on the last day of school helped the kids hang in there. 

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One Northwoods school district is upping its security efforts.

The state Department of Public Instruction this week sent out a report saying they wanted to, among other tasks, increase safety at schools by increasing help for students with mental illness issues.

While school administrators were sifting through the recommendations, Northland Pines District Administrator Mike Ritchie says they have already upped security at their schools. He says they still do the standard drills, but have added others..

The YMCA of the Northwoods is stepping away from its facility in Eagle River.  As of March 1st the Northland Pines School District will run the fitness center that’s housed at Northland Pines High School.

YMCA Interim CEO Laurie Schlitt says the Eagle River facility has been operating at an average loss of $15,000 a year, subsidized by fundraising and the Rhinelander location. 

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Open enrollment begins this week.  Wisconsin families have the option of enrolling their kids in any public school district, even if they live outside its boundaries.  

  For some districts open enrollment brings more revenue, while for others it draws resources out of the area. 

Northland Pines right now is losing about 70 students, but has a net positive gain with around 85 coming in.   District Administrator Mike Richie says they’ve been on the positive end of the equation since 2010, and he keeps a close eye on the numbers. 

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A project of Northland Pines high school is one of six to be honored  by the Department of Public Instruction Friday at the state capitol.

High school Science teacher Robin Indermuehle's "Growing Your Own Food In the  21st Century" began, she says.  as a class project.

Indermuehle says the food is donated to the local food pantry. She says there are a series of guest speakers who also help the project including the Seed-To-Seed Garden Project and Master Gardeners. She says the students learn about science and also have something they can take away.

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