MUSD welcomes new governing board member

Gary Miller
Judge Lyle Riggs of the Pinal County Justice Court swears in Dr. Gary Miller as a member of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board as Saundra Jordan looks on. [Bryan Mordt]

Dr. Gary Miller was sworn in Wednesday evening as the newest member of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board.

He was appointed to succeed his good friend Jim Jordan, who passed away Feb. 15.

Miller will serve out the balance of Jordan’s term, which runs through the end of the year. Miller told InMaricopa he will seek election in November, although he has not yet filled out his Statement of Interest with Pinal County Schools.

This is Miller’s second stint on the MUSD board, which he served from 2015-2018.

Pinal County Schools Superintendent Jill Broussard appointed Miller to the post after reviewing applications from those interested in serving on the board. He was selected over one other candidate, Carla Munkirs, a training program designer and true crime novelist.

Miller, a health care provider, talked about his reasons for wanting to join the governing board.

“Mainly it was filling in for Jim Jordan,” Miller said. “We were really good friends when he first moved down here, we were in the same church, and I got to meet him and his family. He came to me and asked if I thought (running for the MUSD board) was something he should do. So, I gave him some information about what he was really getting into.

“Second, and what was really motivating, was when the Arizona School Board Association pulled out of the National School Board Association. I wanted to be a voice for parents, that they have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights and that I would in no way believe in labeling parents as domestic terrorists. I wanted to be that voice.”

Miller identified his priorities as sustainability, growth, and the social and emotional well-being of students. But he emphasized the board is a team, and no one member’s priorities should stand above anyone else’s.

“There’s just so much going on, especially with growth, and uncertainty with the legislature,” he said. “We all work together, so it’s not just about me.”

Dr. Tracey Lopeman, MUSD superintendent, was happy to have a new member who can hit the ground running.

“It was sad circumstances (around Jordan’s death), but it’s really their friendship that motivated (Miller’s) decision to seek the appointment,” Lopeman said. “I think it’s a sign of their connection to service and kids. It’s really what our district needs right now, and because he has so much experience, we’re able to keep progressing at the same pace.

“He has such a great foundation to start, and all the right motivations, so this is good.”