February 16, 2010 9:51:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School will look to its past for a new athletic director.
Former SHS principal and current Arkansas High School administrator Dr. Stan Miller has been selected by Starkville School District Superintendent Judy Couey to replace Bill Lee, whose retirement becomes effective at the end of the school year.
Miller''s hire is on tonight''s SSD mid-month board meeting agenda and is pending board approval.
Miller, a former superintendent for Pearl Public Schools, brings Starkville High athletics a wealth of administrative experience, a trait Couey considered valuable in the search.
"We were looking for someone who had a lot of experience, someone familiar with budget, someone familiar with the facilities," Couey said. "The fact he has pre-existing knowledge of the district was a big plus, too."
Couey said Miller was picked from a strong group of applicants and there was plenty of interest from candidates who were interested in the athletic director position and the still-vacant head football coach position. Lee shared both roles at Starkville High, but the decision to split the two positions was made at the beginning of the year.
With the current state of the economy and the rash of state budget cuts for education, Couey put a premium on finding someone who could keep the athletic department going in the right direction, move it forward, and develop closer relationships with booster clubs and the local community.
"A lot of that has to do with setting up budgets with the times being what they are for school districts," Couey said. "We want to bring a little bit more equity and balance to all the programs. Booster clubs and those sorts of things are so imperative to get our facilities to where they need to be and to maintain the facilities we have."
First up for Miller, who will work on a per diem basis with Lee until his full-time contract becomes effective July 1, will be finding a head football coach. Spring practice is right around the corner and offseason workouts are under way.
Some of the candidates who were interested in the coaching position were also interested in becoming athletic director, and it''s unclear how many applicants Miller will lose because of the decision to split the positions.
Either way, time is the biggest factor.
"He''s made it his number one priority," Couey said.
Couey hopes to get the ball rolling on a new field house, which would solve the current problem of the SHS football team having to suit up at the baseball field. She admits the project is ambitious considering the budgets school districts have, but she hopes Miller''s knowledge of the area and relationships in the community will help the project move forward.
One discussed location has been the south end of the football stadium next to the current practice field.
"I''m so distressed we don''t have a field house. It''s awful that our kids are out on those bleachers," Couey said. "We''ve already had preliminary meeting with members of the community who''ve offered help. We just haven''t had someone take the helm and pull together all the members of the community to get things going.
"The general state budget is a big road block for all districts. We still want to make sure we maintain the existing facilities we have, and that''s a challenge with the shrinking budgets."