Director of Business Services Heide Miller announced her retirement at the end of the Chisago Lakes school board meeting on Thursday, September 21. She has worked for the district for 23 years.
In an emotional farewell, Miller gave thanks to her colleagues, and they responded in kind, explaining how vital she is to the district and how hard it’s going to be to replace her.
The difficulty of replacing her will actually fall to two people, as Miller will be replaced by a new Director of Business Services, but there will also be a Human Resources Director position created to take on that part of the job that Miller has efficiently handled.
“It was just time,” she said. “Life is too short, and I still have so much to do.” Miller noted she would be doing plenty of hunting, golfing and traveling in her retirement but that she would still keep close tabs on the district throughout their referendum projects.
Outgoing Superintendant Joe Thimm, who was at his last meeting in charge of the district, joked that they would save money going forward on electricity, referring to Miller’s penchant for staying well after hours for her job. He also praised Miller endlessly, saying, “What you’ve done for the district is amazing. There’s not another business manager in the state who can do this job better than you can.”
Board chairman Mark Leigh said of Miller, “Early on, I never quite realized how good you are at your job. You are so quiet when you’re working, but so effective. What you’ve done over the years to keep us on solid financial ground is incredible. We’re going to miss you.”
Board member Lori Berg echoed those feelings, saying Miller has had a “tremendous impact” on the district in her time working there. Miller’s retirement will be effective at the end of December, coinciding with the district office’s move from the middle school building. At that time, the district offices will move to Lindstrom temporarily in the strip mall that houses H & R Block formerly China Panda. The plan is to have new district offices built at the new elementary school that is being constructed.
The current district offices will be renovated to house SOAR and EBD students that are currently housed at Fairview. The accelerated timeline was neccessitated when the district’s lease with Fairview was going to involve a substantial increase.
The district also unveiled early plans for the new elementary school and the community center. Representatives from Wold Architects were on hand to fill the board in on the plans and where they were in the process.
Wold also released a tentative timeline for the project. There will still be some design development with the school board that will be finished by January 3. The construction documents will be finalized by March 7 and the bidding will go out soon after, with bids awarded at the April 12 school board meeting. Construction will begin in April of 2018 with completion and occupancy currently slated for August 16 of 2019 for the new elementary school and district offices.
The community center project, being smaller, will see a quicker timeline. The design development will take place in November. Project bidding will go out due February 6 and will be awarded at the February 8 school board meeting. Construction will go from February 19, 2018 to December 28 of 2018, when the community center should be able to be used.
The announcement for tennis court bids was also adjusted to October 10. It was to be in September, but there needed to be some soil correction on the site. The board used some of the funds that were earmarked for the failed purchase of the property next to the high school that would’ve housed the tennis courts to fund the corrections. Board chairman Mark Leigh said he saw the initial plans for the tennis courts. “The plans look very nice,” he said.
The snow removal and lawn mowing contract went to J & H Outdoor Services again. Owner Jeremy Harris didn’t raise the prices over the next two years, and Miller said that their service has been “above and beyond.”
Middle School Assistant Principal Jim Gillach was on hand to recognize Erich Rich, who has volunteered his disc jockey services at nearly all school sponsored events over a number of years. Gillach estimated that Rich has saved the district nearly $25,000 in DJ fees. Gillach also noted that Rich is a volunteer girls soccer coach.