This week’s Viewpoints
Experience tells us that the School District of Rhinelander is a proven asset to our community. Rhinelander’s reputation for having an excellent school system has been paramount in the decision by many professionals and families to call Rhinelander their home. It certainly was for us twenty-one years ago when our family left the southern part of the state to raise our children and start a new life in the beautiful north woods. School districts in the suburbs of Milwaukee and Madison are competitive, strong and well-funded. Our sons were very young at the time and we couldn’t help wonder if we had made the right decision to move away from those reputable and healthy school districts.
Twenty one years later, we’re now looking back and we can attest from personal experience that Rhinelander’s reputation for being an excellent school system is well deserved. Unfortunately many of the aspects that make Rhinelander such a great system are once again in line to be ended.
Our sons began their education in class sizes of 17-20, where teachers could take the time to encourage, listen and help develop their love of learning. When they reached middle school, their course selections were diverse. They spent time in music, art, foreign language, sports and tech ed. It was here that the connections were made from their interests to their education. At Rhinelander high school, our kids were met with a rigorous array of advanced placement courses to choose from that were taught by arguably some of the finest educators in our state as well as several co-curricular options to foster their interests. Our children are now successful community minded adults, and have moved on to the next stages in their lives. We know that their success is in large part due to the exceptional education they received here in Rhinelander and for this we are very grateful.
We would ask everyone to think back and recall the reasons why you chose to come to or stay in this area. We truly believe your answer would in part involve the strength and soundness of our school district and community. Please consider a vote “yes” on Feb.16. Coming together and supporting this referendum is necessary to keep this school district and prideful Hodag community strong.
Mark and Connie Piasecki, Rhinelander
Protect Medicare Advantage
According to a Health Services Research study, half of a person’s lifetime spending on healthcare occurs after the age of 65. With that in mind, ensuring that seniors have affordable health care choices not only impacts current seniors, but also younger folks that will see their health care spending spike in their later years.
Unfortunately for both current and future seniors, the Medicare Advantage program has been the target of recent attacks by those that want to use it to pay for other programs, such as Obamacare. These raids will lead to higher premiums, less choices, and fewer options for current and future seniors.
According to the American Journal of Managed Care, Medicare enrollees with a Medicare Advantage plan see a hospital readmission rate upwards of 20% lower than those with just traditional Medicare. With a higher quality care and affordable choices, Medicare Advantage must be protected and the raids need to stop in order to protect the program for my generation and the next.
Call Senators Johnson (202-224-5323) and Baldwin (202-224-5653) and tell them to protect Medicare Advantage for current and future seniors. Tell them to oppose using Medicare Advantage as a bank to fund other government programs.
Joyce Bant, Hazelhurst
To Whom It May Concern…that means everyone.
In the recent past we have seen the systematic defunding of education in Wisconsin. This generally includes all public schools including the university system. A lengthy discussion may be had to determine why this is happening but the facts are apparent and obvious. It IS happening.
Unfortunately, at this time due to these reductions and the inadequate and broken state funding system rural schools are suffering the most and must endure draconian slashes to budgets. In 2015-2016, the School District of Rhinelander (SDR) received 86% funding from local taxpayers and 14% funding from the state. This is simply wrong. This means a reduction in teachers, support staff, classes and the maintenance of infrastructure. This also means a reduction in opportunities for students to participate in athletics, music, art, theater, sciences and co-curricular activities which stimulate growth and development.
Rural schools often become the focal point of the community and reflect a sense of pride. This is the case with the SDR. The Rhinelander schools with the support of the community and SDR’s dedicated staff have offered students and parents a surprisingly wide array of sophisticated opportunities for growth and preparation to further their education.
All specific information regarding the referendum is easily and readily available to the public. I have worked with the people of Rhinelander for 16 years. My experience has been that when they are educated on and understand the facts regarding a collective challenge they make the right decision even when it is difficult. This wonderful community of Rhinelander, like the majority of other rural communities, must come to the aid of the local school district. I will be more than happy to vote “YES” on Feb. 16 to support the Rhinelander School District allowing it to continue to be a source of pride for the good people of this community.
Robert Wojnowski, Town of Pelican
A time to reflect
How fortunate and lucky we are to be a part of this community. Everyday I pick up the paper and consistently read about our student body and its accomplishments both academic and in sports that are attained above and beyond. That doesn’t just happen. They are driven with individual pride and commitment. It is developed from an early age on by committed and dedicated educators, staff and parent support and encouragement to step up to the plate and give it your best. Many of us attended the Rhinelander School system and honor our experience and mentors with pride of the richness of our experience. If someone were to ask me where the wealth is to be found in Rhinelander, I would not hesitate to say within the walls of the school district. The time nears for us to be grateful by giving our support. Our children and grandchildren are our legacy.
Food for thought.
Craig Strid, Rhinelander
Acceptable voter IDs
In order to receive a ballot at all elections in Wisconsin, you must provide a state approved photo ID. The following are acceptable IDs: Wisconsin driver’s license or a DOT-issued Wisconsin identification card which expire on or after 11/4/2014 or an unexpired receipt for the license or card; Tribal ID card; Passport which expires on or after 11/4/2014; U.S Military photo ID card which expires on or after 11/4/2014; Certificate of Naturalization issued within the last 2 years; Wisconsin accredited college ID card (unexpired) and Proof of Enrollment.
Some important things to remember are that there is no a separate “voter ID card;” you can use any of the IDs listed above. Note the expiration and issuance date requirements. The name on your Photo ID does not have to exactly match the name you use to vote. Nicknames are okay (e.g. Susan with ID for Sue or Dick with ID for Richard). An acceptable photo ID does not have to include your current address.
If you vote absentee, you will need to include a copy of your acceptable photo ID when you send in your absentee request, unless you are indefinitely confined or you live in a nursing home or senior residential facility.
To get a free voter photo ID, go to your local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) service center Bring your social security number (doesn’t have to be your SS Card) and original documents that prove your name and date of birth, your identity, U.S. Citizenship, and Wisconsin residency. Start NOW! For more information go to http://bringit.wisconsin.gov
Yolan Mistele, Arbor Vitae
School referendum is not a partisan issue
Once again our Rhinelander school district is forced to propose a referendum, not for some major project, but simply to fund day-to-day operations. This is not because of extravagant spending or inefficiencies in the district, but because of state funding regulations that are discriminating against districts like ours. I challenge our elected officials in Madison (Representative Swearingen, Senator Tiffany, and Governor Walker) to get to work, accomplish some constructive governing, and solve the problem.
In the meantime, we local citizens must address the problem. This is not a partisan issue. It matters not if we are young or old, working or retired, property owners or renters, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, or whether or not we have children in school. We must join together for our common good, and pass yet another referendum.
Leo Norden, Rhinelander
The future of Rhinelander
I have never written a letter to any publication, but I feel compelled to do so at this time.
We need to be very concerned about Rhinelander’s future if the upcoming referendum is not passed. It is a given that professionals will not locate where there isn’t an opportunity for quality education. New business will look elsewhere. Failure to pass this referendum will have a negative impact on our schools and our economy.
I am a senior citizen on a fixed income and understand how some of the senior citizens feel about this referendum. It will raise taxes, yes, but if we feel strongly about education and our community, we will unite and vote yes.
Education is no longer about reading, writing and arithmetic. It is paramount that we provide our students with an education that will allow them to succeed in today’s world.
My children graduated from Rhinelander High School with an education that allowed them to receive degrees from UW Madison.
If you feel these recently announced cuts are a ploy to gain yes votes, please know that these cuts are real and serious. For those that feel the district spends inappropriately, the financial statement is available for review. There are no magic wants out there.
Crowding our buildings and increasing class size is not the answer. I helped as a volunteer in two classes of 30+ students and can attest that a teacher is not able to provide the needed attention to each student necessary for learning.
Let’s get this done! Support Rhinelander and our schools and vote yes.
Amber McIntyre Barnes, Rhinelander