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September 18, 2019

8/22/2019 7:29:00 AM
School board hires consultant to lead search for superintendent
Chromebook, truck purchases approved

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

The School District of Rhinelander Board of Education took another step toward finding its next district administrator Monday evening when it voted unanimously to hire consultant Bruce Miles to assist in the recruitment effort.

Also Monday, the board approved the purchase of Chromebooks and charging carts for all four elementary school K-2 classes and two pickup trucks with snowplows.

Board president Ron Counter recommended the board reach out to Miles, owner and CEO of Big River Group, LLC, to assist in the district's superintendent search.

Miles has worked with the district before, assisting the board with the search that resulted in the hiring of current superintendent Kelli Jacobi.

Jacobi has announced she will retire effective June 30, 2020, putting the district in the market for another administrator.

"This is his final contract, and I think that he did a really good job the last time we had him for Kelli's hire," Counter said of Miles. "He involves community, he involves staff, he's very involved himself in the process."

As listed in the contract, Miles' proposal is designed to place every decision in the hands of the board, allow for board, staff and community input, help the board filter out candidates who do not match the traits the district desires, allow the board maximum latitude during the interviews to probe for successful experience while helping them avoid questions that would not and quickly help the board check references, conduct checks for criminal history and unsuccessful leadership experience.

The district will pay Miles approximately $18,000 for his services, based on a cost breakdown he provided as part of the contract.

The board approved the move by a unanimous voice vote with Mike Roberts absent.

A request from the technology department for 500 Chromebooks, charging carts and licensing for the K-2 grades passed the operations and strategic planning committee on Aug. 12. But when the matter came up at Monday's board meeting, director of teaching, learning and technology Rachel Hoffman explained that an error had been made in calculating the price.

Rather than $157,500 as approved by the committee, the actual cost is $197,037, she said.

"There was a slight clerical error," Hoffman told the board. "So the $157,500 that was originally approved was strictly the price of the 500 Chromebooks. We also talked about the licensing and charging carts, and those just weren't included in the total."

With the additional costs, the amount bid by Troxell was still lower than that of Heartland Business Systems' $218,684, she explained.

"That was specifically asked during the operations committee meeting about the licensing," said board member David Holperin. "At what point was this discovered?"

"We discovered after the fact that the technology department made an error," Hoffman replied.

After the committee meeting the IT department held a meeting and a decision was made to immediately recheck the figure, she explained.

"I had asked why there was a big difference in the bids," Holperin noted.

Counter suggested that a representative of the technology department be present at the committee meeting when large purchases will be decided.

The motion to purchase the computers at the higher amount passed on a unanimous roll call vote

Also passing on a unanimous vote was a request for two new pickup trucks with plows from supervisor of plant operations Jeff Zdroik.

Zdroik said the trucks will replace two trucks that have become too old and too expensive for the district to continue to operate.

Zdroik said a request for proposals was sent to five Chevy dealerships, one each in Rhinelander, Minocqua, Eagle River, Tomahawk and Antigo. Only Rhinelander GM returned a bid of $36,700 per truck, which includes the plow assembly.

The vehicles are standard cab trucks, and includes the discount for state pricing.

In other business Monday evening, the board approved the following:

• A request for student travel to Spain in March 2021, along with request to fundraise.

• Revisions to several current financial policies and the creation of a new policy on payroll deductions.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at

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