Lake Holcombe referendum could have impact on the district's existence

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Bill Friedel knew what he wanted when he walked into Big Swede's Resort for dinner with his wife. But ask him about next week's referendum in Holcombe and it is a different story.

"I'm undecided at this point how I'm gonna vote," he said.

The Holcombe native is stuck between two important points -- more money and keeping his alma mater up and running.

"I've seen some good people come out of that school district, the teaching is excellent up here," he said.

At the same time, he says he and his wife are on a fixed income. We showed him how much he would be paying under the referendum. It is extra money going out that they don't have coming in. But he still says overall, paying extra would be worth it.

"It's the not the numbers, we need a good school in the district," said Gary Schaffer, who is also a voter in Holcombe.

He will answer the same question next week, too which he says he will vote "no."

He does not mind putting up money for education but would like to see a new school shared with a district like Cornell.

"What we need is a good school for our kids and I think consolidation is the answer," he said.

Something he says would be more of a permanent fix.

"We keep patching up the schools in this area, it never ends," he added.

Superintendent Tom Goulet says the money being asked for will be used for day to day operations.

"It's gonna help maintain the school and keep it here," Goulet said.

Employee salaries, fuel, and maintenance are some of the expenses. It is money to keep the district going -- and without it, he says they may need to look at other options like dissolving the district.

"If you dissolve the school the state takes over and they realign the districts," he added.

That means kids in Holcombe could go to school in places like Ladysmith, New Auburn, or Cornell.

He says the board has not talked about consolidation yet, saying the school is in good shape with great teachers, and hopes voters will keep it that way.

"We're hoping that everyone can look to themselves and say we have enough money we can put toward the school," Goulet added.

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