Superintendent Miller announces she’ll leave Pioneer school district

  • Ruth Miller is the Superintendant of the PVRS system. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • Pioneer Valley Regional School.

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/14/2017 7:10:02 PM

NORTHFIELD — Pioneer Valley Regional School District Superintendent Ruth Miller has announced that after next school year, she won’t be continuing in her role.

Miller said she first relayed the news in letters to School Committee members last week, saying she will not be looking to negotiate a new contract once her current three-year contract is up. If nothing changes, Miller’s last day as superintendent will be June 30, 2018.

Miller said she arrived at the decision about three weeks ago.

“I think it’s a considerable struggle financially that I was not aware of when I came,” she said of the school district. “I didn’t come to Pioneer to have teachers lose their jobs and not have enough resources to provide for the students in the way I thought I’d be able to.”

“I said ‘I think working out my contract makes the most sense,’” Miller continued, “and I wasn’t really interested in going beyond that.”

Before coming to Pioneer in 2015, Miller was superintendent of the Narragansett Regional School District for three years, and was associate superintendent for three years before that.

Though Miller said she’s had some job offers, she plans to start thinking about her future in the fall. Meanwhile she will continue to focus on Pioneer.

“My goal will be to help them get financially stable and continue to support the new principals,” she said. “I’ll be moving on and hopefully, I’ll have the district in a better place than when I got here, and somebody else can move it forward after that.”

In particular, she hopes the district will have some money left over at the end of the fiscal year to begin paying down its school lunch fund deficit, which Assistant Superintendent Gail Healy said in April had reached $217,000.

Some members of the School Committee said they’ll be sad to see Miller leave the district.

“I think this is unfortunate,” said School Committee member David Young of Warwick. “She’s doing a good job for us, I’ll be sorry to lose her.”

“Ruth has worked really hard to get us through the district’s progress,” said School Committee member Robin L’Etoile of Northfield. “I’m wishing her the best in her future endeavors.”

Young and School Committee member Peggy Kaeppel agreed the news wasn’t unexpected.

“I was surprised, but it wasn’t totally unexpected,” said Kaeppel of Leyden. “We’ve had more parents and staff concerned with how things have been going in the last year and a half, more than any time I can remember.”

Given complaints from parents, staff and community members regarding changes in staff and communication, to name a couple of topics, Young said he sees Miller withdrawing “so she doesn’t have her reputation trashed.” However, he believes the change represents the opportune time to push toward further regionalization, perhaps sharing a superintendent with another district.

“I think, making lemonade out of lemons, that this is the opportunity to regionalize central office,” he said. “At this point I wouldn’t be inclined to go out on a superintendent’s search.”

“I think we’re still all just kind of taking it in and coming up with a plan on how to move forward,” Kaeppel said, adding she’s anxious to discuss the district’s options during the next School Committee meeting on June 22 at 7 p.m. at Pioneer.

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

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