Mills’ mixed record

The announcement Friday that School District 51 Superintendent Tim Mills is leaving the Grand Valley to head up a school district in Oregon is not a great surprise. It’s been known for some time that Mills was looking for a new job. After six years with the district, we wish him the best in his new job. He can point to a number of accomplishments.

A little more than a year into his tenure with District 51, Mills was a leader in the effort to win voter approval for a $109 million bond issue. That provided money for much-needed new schools and renovation of old ones. It was an important success.

Last fall, a subsequent bond issue that Mills and the school board wanted, and many others fought for, failed to win voter approval. But so did many other school bond issues last year. That narrow defeat can be blamed on the economy, as much as anything.

Mills helped change high-school graduation requirements in the district and implement several innovative scholastic programs.

Our greatest disappointment with Mills is the school district’s test scores, which have been declining and are below state averages. Many people want to dismiss standardized test scores.

We realize they aren’t the only measure of a district’s success, but they are one important measure. And, based on what President Barack Obama said last week, they will continue to be important.

As the District 51 School Board considers potential replacements for Mills, it needs to focus on people who will make reform and academic achievement top priorities. Voters will be more likely to support future building needs if they are convinced that student performance comes first.


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