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April 4, 2020

Jamie Taylor/river news

Eric Burke answered questions for a little over an hour during his second interview Tuesday with the School District of Rhinelander Board of Education.
Jamie Taylor/river news

Eric Burke answered questions for a little over an hour during his second interview Tuesday with the School District of Rhinelander Board of Education.
2/6/2020 7:30:00 AM
School board votes to offer superintendent position to Burke
Unanimous vote comes after second interview, closed session

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

The search for the next School District of Rhinelander superintendent is over as the district's board of education voted unanimously Tuesday evening to offer the job to Port Washington High School principal Eric Burke.

The vote came after Burke was interviewed for a second time and following a 45-minute closed session discussion.

The second interview took place in open session and lasted just over an hour.

"The vote was unanimous to accept him and to begin contract negotiations," said Ron Counter, school board president.

Counter said Bruce Miles of Big River Group, the consulting firm the district hired to lead the superintendent search, would advise the board on negotiations.

In the second interview, Burke was asked 11 questions the board members prepared in advance, as well as numerous followup questions that arose from his answers.

Burke was the only one of three finalists for the position to be asked back for a second interview following the first round of questioning held last Tuesday.

Maggie Peterson, the district's director of learning support, and Pat Devine, superintendent of the Waconia School District, Waconia, Minn., were the other two finalists.

If the district and Burke can reach an agreement, he will take over the position effective July 1, the start of the 2020-21 school year.

He will replace current superintendent Kelli Jacobi, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the 2019-'20 school year after seven years in the position. Jacobi announced her retirement plan last March in an effort to give the district time to conduct a comprehensive hiring search.

Counter said he is hoping for a relatively quick negotiation process.

"We hope to be successful tonight and then we can go back to the board and approve the contract and get it signed and done," Counter said. "(Board member) Duane (Frey) and I are going to start right now."

Frey is chair of the employee relations committee that worked with Miles during the search process.

"We thought he (Burke) did a nice job during the entire interview process, part one and two," Counter said. "The community was extremely happy with him, and we're looking forward to bargaining with him and see where we go from there."

It is hoped that Burke can spend some time with Jacobi prior to officially taking over the position.

"Kelli is receptive to adding more time if we need it during the summer," Counter said.

A full story on the hiring will appear in Saturday's edition.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernews

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