District having trouble finding business manager

Shawano expecting to utilize CESA 8 services in the interim until permanent solution can be found
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Finding a business manager has been more of a challenge than expected for the Shawano School District, so it is turning to CESA 8 for help.

Since Josh Swanson stepped down in September 2022, the search has been ongoing for a permanent business manager. Denise Guex is filling the role for a few days per week in an interim capacity, but the district has not been able to find anyone to take the position since, according to Superintendent Kurt Krizan.

“We’ve been in discussions with CESA 8 for a potential solution,” Krizan said to the Shawano School Board at its March 20 meeting.

According to Nick Curran, who works as the director of business operations for CESA 8 but was also a business manager for the district, the search has not been an easy one for his agency, either.

“In January, I got wind of a licensed business manager moving to the area,” Curran said. “They moved to the Crivitz area but was interested in working with CESA 8. I spoke with Kurt about what a position would look like.”

In those conversations, Krizan and Curran discussed a part-time situation to start to keep Guex but also have someone in authority available daily, according to Curran. That would also have allowed for the business manager to be available to supplement other school districts, too.

Curran said the person in mind has been a licensed business manager for three years, was previously connected with the insurance industry, and was also behind a successful referendum in a school district he had worked at before.

“I know that’s potentially appealing to the Shawano School District, since you guys could have a referendum coming up,” Curran said. “He has great experience there.”

There is a current district employee working to become licensed as a business manager, according to Curran, which might give the district the opportunity to eventually have a manager on site permanently instead of utilizing CESA 8 services.

The proposal, at $725 per day, is expected to cost the district about $113,000, which includes travel costs and attendance at board and committee meetings. The new person would start July 1, according to Curran.

Board member Sam Sousek expressed concern about the cost, noting that when Swanson left the district, he was making about $118,000 on a full-time basis.

Curran noted that the going rate for full-time business managers is between $170,000 and $180,000. CESA 8’s charge for a full-time manager was expected to be $190,000, but with the new person only working up to three days a week, the fee was reduced.

“We try to be as competitive as we possibly can,” Curran said.

Krizan said the district had posted a job notice from when Swanson left through January. In that time, there were three applicants, but only one met the qualifications to be invited for a job interview.

“There’s a huge shortage across the state of Wisconsin for business managers,” Krizan said. “We could do a finance manager, which is a non-licensed person. It’s a little more affordable.”

The agreement is expected to come back to the board at a future board meeting.