Havre Daily News
Havre Public Schools Superintendent Kirk Miller had asked for a 4 percent raise - the same raise granted to teachers and other district employees for next year - but the Havre school board offered him 12 percent to head off any possibility that Miller would leave, a school board member said Tuesday.
Board member Joe Marino said he's not aware of any effort by Miller to find another job, but said the board wanted to taking steps to keep him.
“He asked for a 4 percent raise and we said ‘not acceptable' and gave him 12 percent,” Marino said.
The raise offered by the school board amounts to $10,680.
If Miller were to leave Havre, the district would end up paying that amount, if not more, to replace him, Marino said.
Marino was the first board member to speak publicly about the raise for Miller, a Havre native who's been superintendent for 10 years.
Board members had earlier issued a press release about the proposed contract, which was approved at last week's school board meeting.
School board chair Denise Thompson had declined to comment further about the contract, saying the board's reasoning was explained in the release.
Marino said in an interview that he wanted to answer questions about the raise and clarify the board's reasoning.
He said the board looked at other Class A districts and saw that Havre was toward the top in student population and in the middle for salaries for superintendents.
Marino said he believes it is damaging to the district to change superintendents every few years, adding that studies have shown the average superintendent stay at a district in the U.S. is three years.
He said the board also likes the fact that Miller is homegrown.
“We really respect and cherish those who came through our ranks in Havre,” Marino said. “It shows that you can move up and be successful here and shows teachers that they can move up and be rewarded.”
Marino added that competition will keep Miller on his toes because he will feel the up-and-comers nipping at his heels.
“I don't want Havre to be behind in anything. I want Havre to lead the charge,” Marino said.
“There is no question the superintendent is worth every penny,” Thompson said today.
Thompson said the board was not trying to hide from anything and there were no “smoke and mirrors.” She said board members have been misquoted in the past.
When the board came out of executive session during its meeting on Jan. 10, no one from the media was there and the board came up with the idea of a press release, she added.
Thompson said the contract is just an offer, and that Miller hasn't formally accepted.
Miller said today he'll make a decision when the contract, which is still being drafted, is presented to him in a final form.
Marino said other board members “may be a little gun shy” and that he's more vocal. He added that board members are elected officials, not politicians - “just regular people.”
In April 2003, Miller was one of five finalists for the job of Billings Public Schools superintendent. He was not offered the job.