By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre school board Tuesday unanimously approved a one-year extension of Havre Public Schools Superintendent Kirk Miller's contract.
"We'd better pass it," school board member Joe Marino said before the vote. "We can't let this guy out of our hands."
Miller's three-year contract, which was approved in spring of 2002, was set to expire at the end of the 2004-2005 school year. Tuesday's vote means the contract now runs through June of 2006.
As a result of previous negotiations, Miller will receive a 2 percent raise next school year, raising his salary to $80,455. Terms for the 2005-2006 year will be negotiated next school year.
The contract extension came after the board's evaluation of Miller's job performance in December. The evaluation was not open to the public. Miller said Tuesday night that he requested the extension.
"The rationale for me is personal," Miller said. "I like the job here in Havre. I like the community, and I believe it brings more stability to my position if I continue to be employed through the 2005-2006 school year," he said, adding it will be his 10th year as Havre superintendent. It is rare for superintendents to stay in the same place for 10 years, he said.
Miller grew up in Havre. Earlier in his career, he taught math at the high school.
In April, Miller was one of five finalists for the job of Billings Public Schools superintendent. He was not offered the job. At the time Miller said he had applied not because he wanted to leave Havre, but because he saw it as an opportunity to help more students.
He said Tuesday that he has no concrete plans to leave Havre.
"When the time has come that I don't think I'm being effective anymore, I'll be the one to say I need to go somewhere else," he said. "I'm going to evaluate the situation, as will the board.
"I haven't skipped a beat and don't intend to," he added.
School board chair Denise Thompson said today she is "absolutely" pleased that Miller's contract has been extended.
"We have the best superintendent in the state. I don't think anybody questions that," she said.
Miller chairs the state Board of Public Education. He also serves on the Montana K-12 School Renewal Commission, a group of state officials and educators set up by the Legislature to maked recommendations about education funding and other issues to the 2005 Legislature.