Thief River Falls School Board selects Chris Mills as new superintendent

Mills is currently the superintendent of Stephen-Argyle Public Schools.

Thief River Falls sign.jpg
Thief River Falls sign. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — The Thief River Falls School Board has selected Chris Mills as the district’s new superintendent. Mills is currently the superintendent of Stephen-Argyle Public Schools.

“We believe Dr. Mills has the qualifications and skills to move the school district forward,” said Ryan Walseth, board chair, in a Thief River Falls Public Schools announcement on Feb. 7. “We look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”

The school board recently rejected a bid from Dietrich after it came in 80% higher from this year's contract.

Mills has been the superintendent at Stephen-Argyle Public Schools for 23 years. He says he is excited for the opportunity to lead the school district.

“The district is a very progressive district and the community is very progressive with their businesses,” he said. “I see there being a lot of opportunities going forward for them, and so the opportunity to take on a regional center like that and be a school district leader is an exciting opportunity.”

Mills will come into the school district after a year of budget cuts. In February 2022, the school board approved a $1.2 million budget cut for the 2022-23 school year after a failed November 2021 operating referendum. Expenses were cut in staff to student ratio, building administration and operation maintenance.


Mills says facing the school’s budget issues will take a collaborative effort between the school board and district staff, taking into account enrollment projections and the likelihood of success of another referendum.

“I know that Business Manager Tanya Monson-Ek and their finance committee have been working on this year’s budget and starting to project out what they’re looking at for next year, so I’m looking forward to getting involved with those folks and taking a look at what we need to do going forward,” he said.

The School Board will be conducting contract negotiations with Mills and is expected to approve a contract at an upcoming school board meeting, the announcement said.

Before he was superintendent at Stephen-Argyle Public Schools Mills was the middle school principal in Thief River Falls. Mills will succeed Interim Superintendent Paula Henry and is expected to begin on July 1, 2023.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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