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The Times
  • Miller: ‘My goal is to make it the best school district possible’

  • Among his first duties as superintendent, Robert Miller decided he wanted to get to know the students of the Herkimer Central School District.

    “I did ride all the bus runs in the district,” he said. “I think students weren’t use to seeing their superintendent on a bus.”

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  • Among his first duties as superintendent, Robert Miller decided he wanted to get to know the students of the Herkimer Central School District.
    “I did ride all the bus runs in the district,” he said. “I think students weren’t use to seeing their superintendent on a bus.”
    Miller said he also wants to get into every classroom at the start of the school year in September “to get to know the [teachers] and meet them.”
    Miller was officially sworn in as superintendent on Wednesday during a reorganization meeting of the district’s board of education, but started performing his duties on May 15. He was previously superintendent of the Cherry Valley-Springfield school district for four years, where he also served as an assistant principal.
    Before that, he taught as a math teacher for 17 years.
    Carol Zygo left as superintendent in June 2011. Gary Tutty, a former school superintendent, filled in as interim. After Herkimer voters turned down the merger proposal with the Ilion and Mohawk school districts in November 2012, Tutty announced he would leave as interim in December. Theodore Kawryga, a former Dolgeville superintendent, then took over duties until Miller started in May.
    Miller, selected by the school board in March, has a three-year contract and will earn $125,000 a year.
    “My goal is to make it the best school district possible and one that the community can support,” he said during an interview on Friday.
    Miller said budgeting constraints would be among the challenges facing the district, specifically dealing with the two percent tax levy limit.
    “The revenue is growing slower than expenses,” he said.
    School board President John Cipriano listed the reasons why the board chose Miller as the district’s superintendent.
    “Number one, he had a lot of experience as a superintendent. And that’s very, very valuable as opposed to someone who’s never filled that position before,” said Cipriano during a telephone interview on Friday.
    “Secondly, he has a vision,” said Cipriano. “He’s studied the major challenges facing education, including this new issue of teacher evaluation.”
    Cipriano said the teacher evaluation issue is “a very complicated process. He has a clear vision as to how to bring this process about in a school and how to work with the teaching staff so they don’t see this as a threat.”
    Cipriano also said “we’ve been concerned about the depth of a thousand cuts that keep nibbling away at you until your programs start becoming ineffective. [Miller] has a vision on how we can bring good AP courses and elective courses back to our students.”
    Besides Miller as the new head of the school district, there have been other administrative changes that will pose as a challenge as well.
    Page 2 of 2 - “There’s been a lot of retirements and shifting of staff,” said Cipriano.
    Terry Dangle and Doug Briggs retired from their positions as high school principal and assistant high school principal, respectively. Mary Tomaso, who served as Herkimer Elementary School assistant principal, will replace Dangle and Stan Congden, who served as the Herkimer school district athletic director, will replace Briggs.
    “You have two key places like that retire and it has a major impact,” said Cipriano, who noted Congden will still be able to carry out some athletic director duties since the position was cut in the 2013 – 2o14 budget.
    Cipriano said the board has been “very, very comfortable” with Miller as superintendent.
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