Schools chief puts retirement on hold

David Miller was set to retire and begin working on building a home in the coastal Washington state town of Port Townsend, until the call from San Mateo brought him to do some rebuilding at another site.

On June 16, Miller — who was then leading the Hilmar Unified School District — began what he thought was a six-week stint as interim superintendent after the retirement of Sam Johnson. On Thursday night, that temporary stint was made formal, with a two-year contract keeping him in the district until June 2009.

“David gives us a fresh perspective, a fresh set of eyes to look at the entire situation,” trustee Linda Lees Dwyer said. “He’s a problem solver, and if you read the grand jury reports, you can see there are certainly problems to be solved.”

Miller’s construction background — he oversaw the building of high schools and middle schools at previous jobs — will certainly come into play as the district works to answer the third and final grand jury report released about the district year, which attacked the “fiascoes” and “debacles” in the nearly $300 million Measure M upgrade project that has been halted until matters can be sorted out.

“I’m looking forward to having those kinds of issues put behind us so we can do the normal, exciting things, which is work with kids,” Miller said. “We hired a construction management team, because doing it right this time is absolutely the most important thing.”

Now that he’s formally in charge, Miller said he’s going to set right in taking care of construction projects that have been delayed by the ongoing grand jury report process and disputes.

Included in the list of projects is the installation of locks inside all classrooms to secure them against any intruders, the replacement of skylights at Mills High School to stop a greenhouse effect from heating up the rooms in the afternoon and the installation of air conditioning in some classes that lack it at both Mills and Aragon high schools.

Miller said he can help get the school district on track with construction projects before possibly retiring with his wife — also a long-time educator — to work on his Port Townsend home.

Until then, he says, he has some apartment-hunting to do in order to find a place to live five days a week, as he still plans to head home to Turlock every Friday evening after high school football games end.

Miller has a doctorate in educational administration and a master’s degree in educational administration and bachelor of arts degree in education, history, government and speech from the University of Miami, Oxford, Ohio.

He has 10 years of experience as superintendent of the American School of Kinshasa in the Republic of Zaire and six years as superintendent of the American Community School in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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