Milton School Board confident in superintendent pick

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Neil Johnson
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

— Milton School officials said they had all the information and public input they needed to hire Milton Middle School Principal Tim Schigur this week as the new superintendent.

Last week, the district began quietly negotiating an offer to hire Schigur, eschewing a public meet-the-candidate forum and opting against another round of multi-candidate interviews.

The hire came after a pair of finalists apparently turned down offers for the position, which opened last year with the resignation of Superintendent Mike Garrow.

Schigur, who was in the initial pool of a half-dozen candidates for the position, was a “close third” behind the top two finalists, board President Rob Roy said.

Schigur was thrust to front-runner after the two top finalists, Jeff Jacobson, a principal in the Platteville School District, and Dean Sanders, Lake Mills schools superintendent, both declined offers from the board late in April, Roy said.

Jacobson and Sanders were chosen along with Schigur and the other candidates out of sessions that involved the public.

The two appeared at a second set of interviews, which included a public forum and meet-and-greet for both Jacobson and Sanders.

The board skipped that step in hiring Schigur, and it opted not to re-interview or bring in any new candidates.

“He (Schigur) finished close to those other two, but as I said earlier in the meeting, we went with those two because they had more (years of) experience,” Roy said.

“We decided to go with the two more experienced of the three, and when they withdrew, it made Tim the logical next choice,” Roy said.

“We didn’t do the second interview, the dinner, the public forum—we thought that at that time it wouldn’t be, you know, we might as well go public with—we were going to offer Tim the position.”

Roy said the rest of the process needed to be done behind closed doors.

“We decided to just do the other things that were more quiet. We completed the background check and all those backroom kinds of processes that go on with a hiring,” Roy said.

District Human Resources Director Chris Tukiendorf said the district will pay Schigur a salary of $120,000. Schigur’s benefits package has not yet been settled, Tukiendorf said, but it will be partly based on his salary.

Tukiendorf said he could not calculate an estimate of the value of Schigur’s potential benefits package until those negotiations are finalized.

Roy is the outgoing board president but was at the helm of the hiring decision. Betsy Lubke was named as the new board president Monday.

Roy told The Gazette that Sanders and Jacobson’s choice to decline had “nothing to do with money.”

He said they both cited undisclosed personal reasons for not accepting the post.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Sanders told The Gazette he believes the job was first offered to Jacobson, who turned it down.

The board then got in touch with Sanders in late April to ask if he was still interested, Sanders said. By then, he had already struck a deal to stay at Lake Mills schools as superintendent, Sanders said.

“It was like a week after I had interviewed (with Milton), they called and asked me if I was still interested. At that point, the (Lake Mills School District) board had reworked my contract, so I declined,” Sanders said. “I didn’t even get into any dollar-and-cents discussion with Milton.”

Sanders said he could have taken the job at Milton had the offer come earlier.

“Because of the timing and how it fell out, it made it necessary for me to say, ‘No.’ If my board and I had not done some contract work here, I probably would have thought hard about accepting the position,” Sanders said.

In a phone message to The Gazette on Tuesday, Jacobson declined comment about turning down the job in Milton, calling the decision “personal stuff.”

“There’s not much to add,” he said.

Mike Garrow resigned as superintendent late last year after the board put him on paid leave and launched an investigation into his public conduct and his use of district computer equipment.

Garrow, who has said he feels he did nothing to warrant being investigated or put on leave, is being paid $117,000 for the rest of this school year through terms of a resignation agreement with the district.

In addition, he’s being paid a severance of about $30,000. That amount covers part of his contract, which would have run through June 2014.

Theresa Rusch is being paid a stipend of $20,000 to work as interim superintendent through June 31. After that, Schigur will take over.

As Schigur, a sixth-year principal in the district, makes the transition to superintendent, the school board will give him plenty of support, Roy said.

The board plans to enroll Schigur in a first-year superintendent mentoring program through the district’s CESA affiliate in Whitewater, Roy said.

Schigur also is working on his educational doctorate.

“We plan to work through with Tim to make sure his first year is very successful. He’ll have a new president with Betsy. I’ll still be available on the board to help him as he moves forward,” Roy said.

“We’re confident that we made a good choice and that Tim is going to be very successful, and we’ll work hard to make sure that he is,” he said.

Last updated: 10:36 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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