Altoona Area Assistant Superintendent Norman Miller has been hired as an assistant superintendent for the Central Dauphin School District, northeast of Harrisburg.
"Change can be energizing or paralyzing," Miller said Friday. "I feel energized."
His move apparently caught Altoona by surprise.
"I was literally stunned," Altoona school board member Tim Lucas said.
Miller dashed speculation that he would be the successor to Superintendent Dennis Murray, who has occupied Altoona's top job for the past 28 years and has not committed to a retirement date.
"I assumed all along that when Dr. Murray retired someday, that Norm Miller would be one of the leading candidates," Lucas said. "And there were people always speculating that he would go to Tyrone Area to succeed his father [longtime Superintendent William Miller]. But I never talked with him about how he wanted to advance professionally."
Miller said he applied for the Central Dauphin job in June.
A father of two young children, Miller, 44, said he knew what the superintendency involved and is happy with the career direction he's taking.
"I certainly like the [Altoona] district, but I
didn't think about it [applying for superintendent]," Miller said. "The board never said a word. I never even asked them. I pursued Central Dauphin on my own. And Dr. Murray may even stick around longer."
In November, Murray said he planned to retire when his contract expires in June 2013. Murray could not be reached for comment Friday, but he left a message, saying Central Dauphin's appointment is Altoona's loss.
"The district is losing a tremendous leader," Murray said. "He's young and growing, and this job at Central Dauphin is a wonderful opportunity for him."
Miller has been employed by Altoona since 1994, first as a teacher, then principal, curriculum director, and for the last two years, he has served as assistant superintendent for secondary education.
Monday will mark Miller's last Altoona board meeting as the board is set to approve his resignation.
"I see it as an opportunity for professional growth," Miller said. "Central Dauphin is a much larger school district [with more than 10,000 students compared with Altoona's total of about 8,000]. I'll be working with secondary and elementary education. And my mother is from that area so I will be comfortable there."
Miller said he is negotiating a four-year contract with the Central Dauphin school board.
His salary at Altoona was $108,700, effective July 1.
In addition to Miller's departure from the district, one of Altoona Area's five high school assistant principals, Benjamin Brenneman, has been hired as athletics director for East Stroudsburg Area School District.
Brenneman's salary was $77,341.
Lucas said the board has not discussed whether to eliminate the vacant administrative positions.
"When administrative positions are cut, there is a huge trickle down effect, I think," he said. "I am always concerned that we can lose sight of the big picture: having the proper people in the right job to ensure quality education."
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.