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New superintendent excited about Pine-Richland's future

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
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Brian Miller, superintendent at Pine-Richland, began working at the district on July 1.

Pine-Richland Superintendent Brian Miller said the transition into his new position has been a smooth one.

“A lot of positive energy, both from students, staff and parents,” he said. “It's been a lot of hard work but very enjoyable.”

Miller began work on July 1, after the Pine-Richland school board voted on April 8 to hire him for $153,500 a year as the district's new top administrator.

Since his start, Miller said he's spent time going over documents and information about the district. He's also had meetings with students, teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and board members, visited with student groups and toured each building.

“With any transition, it is important to immerse yourself in the people, traditions, buildings, and programs,” Miller said. “I have tried to do just that.”

Miller replaced Mary Bucci, former superintendent of the Pine-Richland School District, who resigned in January after school directors voted 5-3, with one abstention not to renew her contract.

At the Aug. 26 financial committee meeting, Miller announced his intention to have a budget presentation for the community.

He said school districts have garnered attention recently when trying to balance difficult funding cuts with creating programs and opportunities in schools.

“It can become such a broad topic. One of the challenging parts is having clarity and communication around those big ideas,” Miller said.

The budget presentation, likely to occur at an October school board meeting, will explain changes to school funding, how funding works and what it all means to students, staff, parents and community members without children in the schools.

“Early in the school year, it's good to talk about these concepts as opposed to being silent on issues,” he said. “Reaching a point near the end of the year when possible reductions or eliminations happen creates a pretty challenging situation for a lot of people.”

School board President Peter Lyons said, after Miller was hired, that he distinguished himself from other candidates with “his frank communication style, his ability to articulate his methods and goals and his record of commitment to quality in education.”

Miller said he spent the first 17 years of his career with the North Allegheny School District, and most recently was assistant superintendent there. When the superintendent position became available at Pine-Richland, Miller applied, saying he was attracted to the opportunity for leadership.

“At the beginning of August, I met with a couple small groups of seniors. They described Pine-Richland incredibly well when they said, ‘not too big … not too small … it is just right,'” he said. “I was attracted to the fact that Pine and Richland townships are growing communities. There is a sense of pride in the history of the school district, the achievement of students, and a value placed on education.”

Miller is a 1991 graduate of North Allegheny. He received a bachelor's degree in exercise science from Pennsylvania State University.

He went on to get his master's in educational leadership and principal certification from Carlow University. He got his doctorate in education from Duquesne University in 2009.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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