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Rhinelander School District Passes Referendum, Avoids Deep Cuts

Still, Officials Say More Taxpayer Funding Will Be Needed In 3 Years


Voters in the Rhinelander School District turned out in large numbers Tuesday to pass a referendum and avoid massive cuts to the school system, but district leaders say declining state aid will force them to go back to the voters again in just three years.

The district was prepared to fire 40 teachers, eliminate their athletic program and all extracurriculars, and close two charter schools.

Superintendent Kelli Jacobi said the voters got the message.

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“The Rhinelander community understands what the situation is this time around,” she said. “We’ve cut $11.5 million over the last decade.”

Jacobi blames the state’s school funding formula, which she said punishes her district and others in northern Wisconsin. As a result, she said, she’ll be forced to start asking taxpayers for more money soon.

“Until there’s a change in Madison on this funding formula, we will be in an every-three-year cycle just to continue operating the school district,” Jacobi said.

In recent years, she said, state funding has dropped from almost 50 percent of expenses to just 14 percent.