School board reapportionment committee endorses ‘3-3-3’ model

Petition signatures to be gathered; district residents would vote during September annual meeting

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

TOMAHAWK – A special committee looking into rebalancing representation on the School District of Tomahawk Board of Education has endorsed a proposed model.

Since August of last year, the Reapportionment Subcommittee, made up of board members Kay Kissinger Wolf, Shar Kirsch and Dave Long; Lincoln County Clerk Chris Marlowe; and community members Marguerite Lyskawa, Ken Schulz and Jon Long, has been exploring ways to alter how the board is composed to better reflect the district’s population distribution.

During the board’s meeting on Tuesday, April 9, the committee said it backs a “3-3-3” representation model.

Current representation model; why reapportionment is being considered

The board currently utilizes a “4-3-1-1” representation model. Under this model, the board is composed of a total of nine members representing four designated areas within the district for three-year terms.

Four members represent the City of Tomahawk; three represent the apportioned area covering the Towns of Birch, Bradley, Rock Falls, Skanawan and Tomahawk; one represents the apportioned area that includes the Towns of Little Rice, Nokomis and Wilson; and one represents the apportioned area encompassing the Towns of Harrison and King.

These areas of representation have been in place since April 1972.

In February, the committee provided the board with a presentation explaining why reapportionment is being considered. Due to population shifts over the last several decades, some apportioned areas are overrepresented on the board, while others are underrepresented, the committee explained.

For example, according to U.S. Census data, the City of Tomahawk went from having 49% of the district’s population down to 33.1% between 1960 and 2020, yet the area continues to be represented by four board members.

Meanwhile, two of the district’s three rural apportioned areas have seen their populations grow over that time while still having less board representation than the City of Tomahawk has.

Committee endorses ‘3-3-3’ model

The committee provided numerous potential board makeup options in February and ultimately backed the implementation of a “3-3-3” model, offering several ways this model could shape up.

Earlier this month, the committee endorsed a specific 3-3-3 model, under which representation would be divided into three apportioned areas: The City of Tomahawk; the Towns of Birch, Bradley, Rock Falls, Skanawan and Tomahawk; and the Towns of Harrison, King, Little Rice, Nokomis and Wilson.

Each area would have three representatives on the board, allowing the board to remain at its current nine-person membership.

One seat from each area would be up for election in each election cycle, allowing for residents in each apportioned area to run for a three-year term in each election year.

In endorsing this model, the committee pointed to its balanced populations – each area has between roughly 32% and 34% of the district’s population – as well as its state-required contiguous areas.

Next steps

With the committee and the board supporting the proposed 3-3-3 model, the committee will circulate a petition in an effort to gather enough signatures to formally present the reapportionment proposal during the board’s annual meeting in September.

The proposal would be voted on by district residents during the meeting.

If annual meeting voters give their stamp of approval to the reapportionment proposal, the new makeup of the board would be put in place over the course of three years. As current terms expire in 2025, 2026 and 2027, one seat in each newly-designated area would be up for election in each of those years.

The new model would be fully implemented after the April 2027 election.

Scroll to Top