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The Tomahawk Leader is a state and national prize-winning weekly newspaper serving the scenic Northwoods area in and around Tomahawk, WI.

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 Post subject: Outside set of eyes
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2002 3:53 pm 
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We have to admit now that when the Tomahawk School Board found itself without a district administrator and faced with a potential $300,000-plus deficit during some delicate budget planning times, we simply assumed members would look to its recently retired leader when hiring a financial consultant. He, after all, was extremely knowledgeable of district financial dealings and says he remains so, practically down to the penny, to this day. Time seemed too short to risk bringing someone in from elsewhere to start from scratch as an April 1 teacher layoff deadline loomed near.<p>But, board members opted to interview only one candidate, Bob Hanson, retired superintendent from a neighboring district, Rhinelander. That decision may generate questions of its own, but not with the result or with Hanson's capabilities. <p>Hanson came into the picture anticipating the worst. He spent what amounted to two days following his official hiring – four if you count work he started immediately after the interview – devouring our budget reports and meeting with the remaining administrative team. <p>He then went public with his findings, presenting them to the Education Committee and again at a special school board meeting, outlining his information and recommendations, answering board and audience questions with apparent candor and educated guesses.<p>Perhaps his job was made easier – he even found times to jest about not having all the answers after two days of work – because the worst scenarios do not appear to be in Tomahawk’s immediate picture. Although Hanson is the first to warn that subsequent years look bleak. <p>Nevertheless, the board, we as a reporter of the action and certainly Tomahawk’s teachers are pleased with the findings, Hanson’s quick grasp of the local situation and his frankness in his advice. He has a number of opinions of his own on how we should proceed, but has indicated that he will not force his philosophy on us because he’s only here temporarily.<p>We also feel quite relieved by hearing his interpretation of our finances. He has not found anything out of the ordinary and terms the district as well run. It naturally was not an official audit, but by bringing in an outside pair of eyes to scour our books during this uncertain time in district leadership, we believe we got an extra bonus for our money and perhaps some needed reassurances.


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 Post subject: Re: Outside set of eyes
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2002 8:09 am 
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It did seem rather odd that the school board elected to only interview one candidate for financial consultant. The fact that the "recently retired leader" was not a consideration is not at all a surprise, to me anyway. Although very capable and knowledgable with the school district's finances, Mr. Powell is after all, a taxpayer of the district and would have a personal stake in the findings. He is, if I may, too close to the situation, being a taxpayer and the former administrator. Emotions have run high in the past months. Mr. Powell is not an exception, as shown in his recent chastisement of the board. Don't get me wrong, I think Curt Powell is a great guy, who has done many great things for our district, however I agree, the school board did the right thing by using an outside set of eyes.

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 Post subject: Re: Outside set of eyes
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2002 12:47 pm 
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Although time probably was a major factor in choosing how to proceed, the board should still have taken a few extra minutes to interview all the available candidates for the consultant work. Not doing so shows that the board may have been predisposed in a certain direction. This also calls the results of the review itself, to one degree or other, into question. Just because we all like the results we got from the review does not mean that the procedure we used was perfect.


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