Effort to not renew Salem School district administrator contract fails

The audience at the beginning of the meeting.

The audience at the beginning of the meeting.

A motion to deliver a Preliminary Notice of Non-renewal to district Administrator David Milz did not even come to a vote Tuesday at the regular School board meeting. Instead the motion, made by board President Jack Niccolai, died for a lack of a second.

More than 75 people attended the meeting, including a large turnout of Salem School teachers and even some administrators from other districts. None of the audience members who spoke during a 30-plus minute comment section said they supported the non-renewal notice. In fact, most were overwhelmingly pro-Milz and the status quo at the school.

Audience comments touched on a number of topics including:

  • Making it clear what benchmarks the administrator should be striving for.
  • Pride in what Salem School has accomplished.
  • Praise of Milz and other school staff.
David Milz

David Milz

“The will of these people is to keep Dr. Milz …,” said Matthew Haerter, who has a child at the school and was instrumental in publicizing the pending non-renewal notice among PTO.

Three email messages were also read into the record, two that praised Milz and the school and a third that expressed disappointment in the school’s current state. That email asked board members to put aside personal feelings and “not settle for complacency.”

Before the comment portion of the meeting, board member Kim MacLeod gave a slide presentation on school district’s state report cards, open enrollment and advances at Wheatland Center School. McLeod’s slides showed that Salem’s report card score slipped this year from the year before from 70 to 66.7 and that the district saw a net loss of 132 students to open enrollment.

Milz countered that some of the slip in the report card was due to changes the state Department of Instruction made to how scores were treated this year. As for open enrollment, he said the most common reason the school has found that people open enroll out is the size of the school, which is virtually impossible to change.

After a review by MacLeod of test scores among the Central High School feeder districts, in which Salem did not finish last in any category, but did slip in math, Milz said “except for math, how do we look?”

“Pretty damn good,” an audience member shouted out.

Milz said the dip in math scores is being addressed, including with the hiring of a math-oriented interventionist.

“I want to assure people in this room that we are taking steps to correct this,” Milz said.

After the non-renewal failed to get a second, the large group instruction room erupted in loud applause and cheers that eventually gave way to a standing ovation. Board member Shane Gerber got up and crossed the room to give Milz a hug.

Milz was visibly moved and took a moment to address the situation as he began the district administrator report portion of the meeting.

“I do love this place, I love your kids, the teachers,”  Milz said, pausing to fight back his emotions. “I don’t know what else to say. From here forward I will commit to doing the best job I can for your kids. That’s what I am here for.”



  1. Shane Gerber says:

    Thanks to all who came out in support of Dr. Milz. The right decision was made to retain his services to this District. I truly have enjoyed the last 9 years of working with and learning from him. He truly is “FALCON PRIDE” all the way!!!!!!
    Thanks to Dr. Brown, Cathy Krueger & all my friends, family & supporters for your kind words and guidence to me during the last few years.

  2. Bernard Punsley says:

    Well folks…..the “Salem Witch Hunt” fizzled!!!! The “Jack & Kim” show asked Dr. Milz for some test score data, which he provided to them. They then turned around and tried to use that information to FIRE HIM! Oh yeah, they didn’t clue the 3 other board members on what they were up to! Mr.Niccolai tried to explain “the numbers were overwhelming to me….I’m so glad Kim took up this project”…or words to that effect. After opening the power point presentation with a “disclaimer”….she then did Jack’s dirty work for him while he went and sat with the crowd. To his credit, Dr. Milz did not back down and challenged most of the numbers presented. The entire episode was BIZARRE.

  3. Shane Gerber says:

    Thank you to all who came out and showed your support for Dr. Milz. I appreciate the support that I have had from all of you over the last 9 years.

  4. So they want a smaller school? says:

    Sometime in the early 2000’s there was a plan to build a small 2nd school on the existing Salem school property in the Northwest corner. The thinking then was that having two smaller schools was better than having one larger school. (Better for whom I don’t know) Plans were drawn and priced $$ out and either it was voted down on a referendum or never made it on the ballot because of cost. Ironically as it is now we have two schools under one roof. We have two principals, two libraries and a host of other separate but equal facilities and programs.
    When people talk about open enrollment and how one big reason for parents to opt their children out of Salem is the large size, we need to remember that that decision is on us, us the voters. We decided on having this large school. We took the idea of past school boards, of smaller schools and said no because we didn’t want to spend the money. Well, that was then and this is now. Would having two buildings change who we are and what we already have?
    Also, for anyone that was at the meeting, it was pointed out that “Because of Mr. Milz” the school was losing hundreds of thousands of dollar each year and was projected to loose over $700,000.00 next year because of open enrollment. Let’s look at this from the other perspective. “Because of Mr. Milz” the school has managed to survive those cuts in state aid and even restore the sports programs to boot.
    Next month I am hoping to see the state DPI scores going back ten years and see where we were then and where we are now. Do those scores matter for what happened on Tuesday? No. But it might in two years if this scenario comes up again.

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