Rice Lake Schools mulling options after failed vote

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RICE LAKE, Wisc. (WEAU) - The future of a Western Wisconsin school district is up in the air after a referendum was shot down by voters.

Rice Lake schools had a $20.4 million dollar referendum fail Tuesday night by 61 votes.

The funding would have come from property taxes, costing a $100,000-home owner $80 each year.

Superintendent Larry Brown said the money is needed to add classroom space and new science and technology equipment.

"We were hoping that if it had passed, we would be able to get the project started right away this summer," Brown said.

Heidi Weber, who has three kids in the district, said the timing might have kept voters from going to the polls and hopes another vote with some changes comes soon.

"I was very disappointed that it did not pass. But, I'm a little bit encouraged that it was a narrower margin than I think some of the other referendums have been," Weber said. "Anybody who has doubts should go look at the high school science labs. I think they're maybe from the '60s? How many people have appliances in their house from the '60s?"

"Right now, we're less than 24 hours away from a lot of hard work and a lot of people putting a lot of time in, so we haven't had those conversations yet. But we will, and again, the kids show up every day, and they need a quality education and the board will keep that in mind as they move forward," Brown said.

Even though more voters said no, in talking to about 15 people in the community, WEAU found one person who was more concerned about the higher taxes, and Brown said meetings had very few, negative comments.

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