Incoming superintendent’s track record set him apart

Incoming Juneau superintendent Mark Miller spoke with board members, teachers and members of the public during Sunday's community meet and greet of superintendent candidates. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Incoming Juneau Superintendent Mark Miller spoke with board members, teachers and members of the public during Sunday’s community meet and greet of candidates. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Juneau School Board members call school administrator Mark Miller of California exceptional, engaging and the finalist with the most comprehensive skills.

The board named Miller as the next superintendent of the Juneau School District on Monday night after two rounds of interviews and deliberation.

Juneau School Board member Sean O’Brien says all three candidates were strong and had qualities the board is looking for. After the finalist interviews on Monday, the board deliberated for about five hours before announcing their choice.

“There was a lot of conversation and a lot of consideration. Each had the potential to bring a lot to the table and a lot of value to the superintendent role,” O’Brien says.

Mark Miller (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Mark Miller
(Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

O’Brien says Miller came across as having a comprehensive knowledge base of how schools are run “and proven sophistication and success in his background with running schools and academic success and student success and helping teachers and helping the whole system move forward in a way that was measurable and accountable and complex.”

O’Brien says the other candidates – Hoonah City Schools Superintendent Angie Lunda and school administrator Rick Williams of Texas – possess these qualities to some extent. But Miller’s track record is exceptional.

O’Brien cites Miller’s experience as principal at Emery Secondary School in California where he increased academic performance within three years.

“Being able to show substantial, measurable progress from walking into a system that was really challenged with significant performance issues and dropout issues and academic issues was really impressive,” O’Brien says.

Miller says he’ll bring these skills to Juneau to help continue raising graduation rates.

“Kids who aren’t graduating are typically the students who struggle for whatever reason and figuring out why they’re struggling and connecting to what they know and what they learn and how their culture integrates with education is key. So making sure we hook into that and teach a curriculum that’s relevant to kids and build on that to move it through, I think, will really help,” Miller says.

Miller is currently Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources at Hayward Unified School District in California, a large urban district with 21,000 students. Juneau has about 5,000 students.

Leading the Juneau School District will be Miller’s first superintendent position, and he says he’s ready.

“It’s a great opportunity, I think, for both myself to advance my career and I’m in a place where I feel like I can contribute to Juneau and the city and the school district,” Miller says. “I think I learned some things over the time that I can really apply to make a difference and continue moving the district forward in a positive direction.”

School Board President Sally Saddler says she’s impressed with Miller’s recent experience helping to lead a large district with a $225 million budget. The budget for Juneau schools is typically about $90 million.

“I think Mark as an incoming superintendent will be able to work with the board in helping to continue to develop the professional capacity of all of our employees, to improve the teaching. You know, we already have good teaching and learning that’s going on in the classroom, but I think he can help us sustain the work that we’ve been doing,” Saddler says.

Miller’s contract is in the early stages of negotiation. The advertised salary was $162,000.

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