Rhinelander board grants Port Washington High principal second interview
By Eileen Persike
The Port Washington High School principal is the leading candidate to become the next School District of Rhinelander (SDR) Superintendent. A series of interviews for three finalists for the job was held Tuesday. During a closed session meeting, the school board offered two candidates a second interview, according to consultant Bruce Miles of the Big River Group. Eric Burke accepted, the other candidate declined, Miles said.
Interviewed were Maggie Peterson, SDR director of learning support, Pat Devine, superintendent at Waconia School District in Minnesota and Burke of Port Washington.
During the public interview session held in the tiered classroom at Rhinelander High School, a large crowd consisting mostly of SDR staff submitted questions for the candidates to answer. Questions centered on engagement strategies, communication, leadership and organization styles, how to increase student achievement and test scores, recruitment and retention of staff, opinions on Advanced Placement and weighted classes, and how each candidate would make the district stronger and a “destination” district.
During his interview, Burke said having a long-range financial plan and strong staff are the top issues he sees for the district and ones that will bring continued success.
“In order to be a destination place, teachers are so important to that happening, and the leaders that are in the buildings, so we need to look at how we retain teachers and how we recruit teachers.”
He added that he wanted to “stress how much he believes in the school district’s potential.”
“What I hear about and what I’ve read about, and what you’ve been able to do the last ten years is a lot, but I think there is still room for growth,” Burke said. “Talk about open enrollment, staffing and those kinds of things…and encouraging and expecting the very best from everybody is the way we’re going to get better.”
After he was finished answering questions, Burke turned the tables on the audience, and asked those in attendance a few questions. The school board will hold a second interview for Burke at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4.