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Miller out as Rushford-Peterson Superintendent

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2007
Posted in Education

RUSHFORD - In a move that came as a surprise to many, at least those outside the school system, the Rushford-Peterson school board voted not to renew the contract of Superintendent Jeff Miller at their regular March meeting.

Board Chair John Nitecki recommended that the board not renew Miller's contract. Roger Metz made the formal motion not to renew, and Jim Kitchens seconded. With no discussion, the board went immediately to a roll-call vote where the decision was unanimous.

In February, the board conducted a 90-minute closed session to discuss their evaluation of the superintendent with him. Nitecki read a prepared statement after the meeting was re-opened that indicated Miller's review was mixed.

The statement praised Miller in six specific areas: developing organized and accurate board meeting agendas, satisfactory performance regarding district financial operations, performing well in contract negotiations, handling the bomb threat at the middle school, performing well in the subsequent development of a school security plan, and performing well in preparation of the annual budget.

The statement mentioned five specific areas where "growth" was needed: being the liaison between school and community, developing favorable relationships with employees and community members, completing work assignments in accordance of the Master Agreement, developing and managing a comprehensive strategic planning process. Nitecki added that the board also requested Miller regularly attend school community events.

"He wasn't around much-we rarely saw him," said one district employee of Miller, adding that he was a "personable, likable guy."

Miller also served as middle school principal and thus traveled frequently between Rushford and Peterson. For the past month, he's also been serving as elementary principal since Bruce Blixt requested medical leave. Miller also assisted in Athletic Director duties regarding the recent state tournaments since high school principal Brad Johnson was also on medical leave. (Mike Honken is officially Johnson's replacement during his leave.)

Nitecki said his recommendation last Monday came after he'd met personally with Miller for several weeks regarding his performance. No other information was given, other than that Nitecki recommended non-renewal.

"It would be disrespectful of the superintendent for me to comment," Nitecki said after the meeting when approached by the press. When asked whether the taxpayers' right to know what's going on in the district shouldn't be balanced with that respect for employees, Nitecki said, "I'm not saying anything that might disrupt this board. I'm not doing it."

Members Greg Smith and George Ingram referred the press back to Nitecki when approached with questions. Miller also had no comment immediately following the meeting.

This was Miller's fourth year serving as superintendent for the district.

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