February 6, 2016

District hires new operations director

Gary Diener will replace Bill Miller as the Director of Operations for the USD 231 school district. He punched in for his first day on the job on March 31.

Miller will serve out the remainder of his contract, which ends in June.

Gary Diener

Gary comes to USD 231 from the Olathe School District where he served as Executive Director of Business and Financial Services since 2004.  Prior to 2004, Diener held the positions of Director of Business and Financial Services, and physics and mathematics instructor in the Olathe School District.

Diener holds a Master’s in mathematics from Kansas State University and a Master’s in business administration from the University of Kansas.

“Mr. Diener’s strong leadership skills and breadth of knowledge in public school administration coupled with his experience in the classroom will serve the district and students extremely well,” said Superintendent Bill Gilhaus. “His high standards of quality and reputation as a collaborative, responsbile professional will be a good match for our district.”

Diener is the cousin of Gardner Edgerton High School football coach Marvin Diener.


  1. dienerville says:

    (to the tune of Margaritaville)
    Wasting away again in Dienervile
    Waiting for another Diener to hire
    Some people think
    Nepotism is to blame
    But I know it’s all Gilhaus’ fault.

    Way to go Gardner school administrators. How much does the combined Diener dynasty haul down in salary? It’s about the kids, right? (Don’t like my comments, sue me — oh yeah, you’re already suing the taxpayers – right? It’s called SFFF.)

  2. traitor says:

    United States of Diener. I’ll give the guy a chance, but c’mon USD 231, surely there were other candidates with a different last name. How many Dieners does it take to screw in a lightbulb?



  4. @Gilhaus says:

    Diener’s, Diener’s everywhere
    How much does Gilhaus spend?
    No one cares!

    Maybe the district can raise towel or book fees to pay for all the Diener’s.

  5. Heard the Shawnee School District is cutting millions out of their budget, combining classes, cutting teachers jobs, etc. What is USD 231 doing? Trying to spend $80 million on two new schools. Hmmmmm.

  6. Chris Shaw says:

    Where is Mr. Miller going?

  7. Amy Cunningham says:

    Mr. Miller’s contract with the district was not renewed. He will leave the district at the end of June, 2011.

  8. Um dont mean to sound to rude here, but if you compare Gardner to some of the other districts we are not cutting Teachers like some of the others so we must be doing something right with our money. Also give the guy a break…he just started and already we are giving him a hard time because of his last name. Do you realize what Diener has done for this town…he has helped put Gardner on the map. We are attracting alot of new people to this town. Doesn’t anyone realize that people used to complain all the time cause Gardner got no respect that our teams will never win the big games..now we are and now people are complaining about a man that has helped achieve that. Gardner Basketball, Softball, Volleyball, Softball are all on the rise and nobody cares, all you want to do is complain about a guys last name. If there is a problem with the way things are then do something to make a change, go to school get a teaching degree and make a difference, apply for a position with the administration, run for school board. Its easy to sit here and decredit a person then it is to make a change I guess. I am getting tired of everyone complaining about every decision that is made in this town with Schools or with City matters. Nobody can ever say anything great about anything. I am sad to See Mr. Miller go I think he was a great person and friend and he will be missed but congrats to Mr. Diener and good luck to him at his new position I wish him well.

  9. I still say the truth is still not out there as to why Mr. Miller is leaving our district.

    I also believe Mr. Diener is now perhaps a double or triple dipper. Retired with KPERs pension and then he comes back and gets huge salaries as an administrator and perhaps this is not true but I would like to know. I believe there is lots the people do not know about and which they should know.

    I also believe educational dollars which are about 60% or more of our property tax bill should be going for actual EDUCATION and way too much money is going to sports. How many kids will have a career in sports? Very few – out kids need to be educated so they will be qualifying for jobs with a livable wage and to cut down on social costs and they better be taught what they need to know in high school in order to avoid remedial classes in college which are so costly. Sure the ball games are fun but to me the priorities are totally out of whack here in Gardner and elsewwhere. I have heard Coach Diener is getting paid more than some of our seasoned teachers and when he came he required a job be given to his wife – I do not agree with this type of politics if this is true. I want our kids EDUCATED at the lowest cost possible.

    Also we are going to have to combine school districts to save money – especially administrator costs. Mr. Gilhaus and the School Board told me I would have to pay $150 for them to answer one question on the number of dropouts in our district – when they did that, they lost all of my respect. Mr. Gilhaus and that School Board are not giving me the type of leadership I am looking for and Gilhaus should be fired as far as I am concerned and the School Board not re-elected. As Tom Mertz, past School Board President, told me in 2006; “I am not concerned with kids dropping out of school because WE need more unskilled labor” – that tells me this School District’s main agenda is not in educating our children at a reasonable cost – it is about Friday Night lights and dirty rotten politics. They no more care about our youth of today than a man in the moon in my opinion.

    I believe parents and citizens in this district need a huge dose of truth serum and really be informed and educated on issues concerning the education of their children. Too many have been drinking the kool-aid for too long as your tax bills and educational costs go thru the roof. Some citizen groups need to be started to get to the truth but I doubt if that will happen – people will continue to wear their rose colored glasses as to what is going on while they get further in the hole financially.

  10. Samuel K says:

    There is no accountability for money spent in the education system. Who suffers are students. The majority of the money goes to salary, and a large majority of that to administrators. it should be less about the administration and their perks and more for the students and those on the “front line.”

  11. there is a meeting at Fellowship Bible Church on Thurs. April 14th at 6:30 p.m. to answer these questions. Both Special Ed. directors Judy Martin and Jody Marshall have agreed to answer questions about budget cuts that not only effect education but special education……show up with your questions!!!!!

  12. The reason people are up in arms about the money the school district spends and the money the city spends is because the money belongs to the TAXPAYER. Since it’s my money I want the decision makers to be as judicious with tax dollars as I am at home. When I was laid off from work I had to cut back on my spending – I had to decide what things were needs and what things were wants. The economy is, for lack of a better term, “laid off” right now and people are stretched pretty thin. The school district, and the city for that matter, has trouble distinguishing needs from wants.

    It is a top priority to have quality schools. It is a top priority to have safe schools. Is it a top priority to have a coach making six figures? Is it a top priority to have so many school administrators? Is it a top priority to put turf on a football field? Is it a top priority to have the superintendent making the money that he is? Is it a top priority to have such a plush athletic complex (although sunk costs are sunk)?

    I like your world, Dustin, because in your world things are the way they ought to be. It is a perfect world. My world exists in reality. The reality is that the district is asking me to ante up my portion of another $70,000,000 bond issue and I’m already paying the second highest school mill levy in the state. The reality is that I can see places where spending can be eliminated or cut back but the district keeps writing checks. The reality is that putting carpet on a football field when people are having a hard time feeding their families is irresponsible.

  13. Okay my world is not perfect…I struggle just like the next guy, but I do know a little something about Grounds as my father spent the past 20+ years on grounds crew for the BV school district till he past 3 weeks ago. With that I know how much a district can save by adding turf to their stadiums, sure its a TON on money up front but in the long term of things it saves districts money. No water, no paint, no mowing…just a really large Vacuum. It saves on man power so that the crew that normally takes care of the stadiums can use their time better by spending it in places that really need it..like mowing the schools, spreading mulch, planting trees, putting more focus on other fields that are in need. It helps keep the hours low.
    In no way is my world perfect. I pay taxes in this city just like you do, my child will be going to school here, I will continue to support USD 231. Education is more important than Sports in any district.

  14. Here are some comments from an article I just read on education:

    Every autumn, on community college campuses, students and teachers alike weep over test results that show too many high school graduates lack the reading and math skills to enroll in college courses. These students are channeled into remedial classes — an expense they hadn’t budgeted for. Lack of preparedness is a big reason that less than a third of the students who enroll in a community college with the goal of attaining a two-year degree ever receive one.

    Four-year colleges also struggle with completion rates. Four of 10 students who enroll at a college or university don’t earn a bachelor’s degree within six years.

    For too long, we’ve been focused on the campus entrance. “Go to college,” we’ve told our young men and women, holding out a degree as the key to the American dream. We’ve offered them scholarships and grants and loans and applauded them as they’ve walked through the front gate. But no one pays much attention when they slip quietly out the back door with no degree and tons of debt.


    Those educatin costs take big dollars. The above comments indicate the real world. I would encourage all citizens to be informing and educating themselves on this important issue. College is about lots more than fun and games as many are finding out – hope citizens in the Gardner area start realizing that too. Those youth slipping out the back door without a degree will have a much harder time in life and those with just a high school degree, I feel life could be really grim for them.

  15. Education Supporter says:

    Okay Judith…I am the parent of a child in the USD231 school district. My daughter has received an excellent education from one of the leading schools in the state. I went to a Shawnee Mission School when SM was the leading district in the state. I will tell you as I have told her – she has had a better education than I ever received there and is more prepared for college than I ever was also. I am sick of you bagging on the district continually. I think you need to educate yourself on the education our kids are receiving. Why don’t you be part of a solution instead of a constant thorn?

    I think most people know that college is serious business and that there is a price tag attached to it. I think the district has provided an excellent education for my child and many other children. What you are alluding to above seems like a parenting issue – parents need to prepare their children for the responsibility of college, balancing work and life, etc. Some kids do not graduate college;some take a break and go back later when they are more sure of what they want to do. Life is full of choices. I have not ever and will never expect the school to parent my child – that is my job, which I dearly love.

  16. Well, Education Supporter, I hope the next time you send Mr. Gilhaus and/or the School Board an e-mail and ask them a simple question about the schools, they tell you that you will have to come up with $150 to answer the question. We will see then whether you think everything is just dandy with your school district. And when your School Board President tells you that he or she is not concerned with kids dropping out of school since WE need more unskilled labor, that you will think that is exactly what you are looking for in an elected representative for your schools.
    And I guess it is all right with you when they sue you for more money to run the schools regardless of the hard time many taxpayers are having now. And I guess it is just fine with you when sports is the name of the game here in this district and big dollars can go there rather than academics. And I guess it is fine with you when the U.S. slips farther and farther behind in worldwide standings with respect to education. This district has had the highest school mill levy in the whole STATE for years now and I don’t think they are getting any better education than many other districts. Guess you think it is just fine to have and to pay for as many administrators in this district with around 4,500 students than it is for a district with 15,000. Guess you have the money to continue to pay for these high costs but there are many who do not. You don’t expect a thing from your school district and that is exactly what you are getting in many instances – myself I will set the bar a little higher and I do expect more than what I have seen in many instances.

  17. @educationsupporter says:

    Just because you question something does not mean you think it is bad. As a customer of the district you should question how it is run.

    Dr. Gilhaus has built a fine school system. Could it be better in some areas? I’m sure. How does it improve? It improves because interested community members become involved.

    I have seen Judith post many times that she asked the district to provide dropout numbers and that the district wanted to charge her the astronomical $150 fee. I am now quite interested in how many dropouts the district has had in recent years. I hope the Gardner News will follow that question up because I don’t have $150 to spend finding the answer.

    I have heard that Dr. Gilhaus runs the district with an iron fist unless you are one of his chosen few favorites. I’ve also heard that you don’t disagree with the man or he will show you the door. I don’t know if that is true or not. I guess you could ask Bill Miller the answer to that question in a few months. I have heard many examples from disgruntled and former employees.

    I’m with Traitor, I’ll give the new Operations Director a chance (not that I’ll get to see how he performs). I’m sure he isn’t a bad person and maybe he really was the best guy for the job.

    I would like to know the amount of money the school district spends on administrators, how much money the Diener family now makes from the school district, how many candidates the school district interviewed for the Operations Director position?

    Judith does bring up an interesting point about the school district suing us. Do you realize that the district has entered into a lawsuit to sue the state? I assume you are a taxpayer. Do you know that means they are suing you? Do you believe that kids in the district are suffering? Could the schools use more money? I’m sure they think they could but the reality is that they are asking for $70,000,000 dollars in the form of a bond in addition to suing you and me. Are they spending money in the most responsible way?

  18. And they are suing you and paying attorneys to do so with your tax money.

    All of the questions you have asked can be answered by completing an Open Records Request form and submitting it to the School District. I would gladly do it but I am always the only one to have the spine to do it and then I get bad mouthed for doing so. Give them the opportunity to lie to you – they have certainly lied to me in the past such as when they said they were objecting to the Kimberly-Clark tax incentive and yet Lee Metcalfe with the New Century complex advised Mr. Gilhaus had talked to him and stated they would not object to the incentive and on the day the Commissioners voted on that issue, Chairman Surbaugh stated: If the school dist. is not here to object to this tax incentive, then I see no reason not to give it. Go to your minutes of Commissioner meetings to verify that statement. In the process our school districts and the school families lose millions in tax revenue to a company that is making millions/billions of dollars in profits and can certainly afford to pay their taxes just as average citizens who struggle to do so in some years. If you want to think that school district and school board are protecting your interests, then that is your perogative but to me they have proven time and time again to not be caring about what I care about – that is my opinion.

    Go to the Kansas Dept. of Education’s website to get your answer about the number of dropouts for the past 5 years. I had to call that department to find the answer to the question with respect to the number of dropouts that Gilhaus had already provided to the state but wanted to charge me $150 for the information. And you will find the number of dropouts has incresed considerably in the last few years and above the average of other schools. Every citizen should be concerned with the number of dropouts and how we can reduce those numbers because if those people don’t get eductated, YOU are going to be paying huge social costs for years to help these people who won’t earn enough to provide a living for themselves or their families.

    Mr. Gilhaus and the present School Board are too arrogant for me and that opinion has come about thru interacting with them over numerous years. For several years I tried very hard to support them but there came a time when they no longer deserved my support. Same way with the city and I will continue to expect better.

  19. And dear ole Kimberly-Clark who was billed 25% less than they should have for three years, didn’t pick up the phone and tell the Jo. Co. Treasurer that they hadn’t been billed enough on their property tax bill. Just like dear ole Tom Mertz didn’t do on his pay-in-lieu agreement/billing.

    And dear ole County Appraiser Welcome and County Mrg. Zacharius didn’t catch that error (if that is what it was) either of Kutack Rock’s nor did the State Board of Tax Appeals who signed off on the incorrect pay-in-lieu agreement. Those bureaucrats rubber stamp everything that comes across their desks resulting in the loss of millions in tax revenue for the citzens.

    Good thing you have a concerned citizen in your community who is saving the citizens a million dollars and more by reviewing the records and making sure the tax bills are correct plus a few other things – the elected officials and the bureaucrats sure aren’t doing any oversight or even doing their jobs of protecting the citizens. There is a huge need for concerned citizens who take their time to protect their fellow citizens and there is a huge need for citizens to be informed and educated before they step into that voting booth.

  20. @educationsupporter@ says:

    Questions regarding how money is spent doesn’t mean you don’t support USD 231 or the students and teachers. I would argue it’s our duty as citizens to question the spending, especially considering the economy. As to Gilhaus and an iron hand, there are many of us disgruntled, but if you want to have your contract renewed, you’d best fall in line. I’ve yet to see how much Coach Diener, the young Diener, and the new Diener make at the district. Is the new Diener making more than Mr. Miller? My guess would be yes; if not they would be forthcoming and tell us. As long as Gilhaus wines and dines the school board, he is accountable to no one. If it is really about the kids, and about a good education, then people should ask questions, and the administration shouldn’t be ashamed to answer. What are they hiding?

  21. You are still upset about the school district wanting to charge you $150 for information research? Ever stop to think they are charging you because you call them all the time asking stupid questions like that and they are putting a price tag on it to keep you from wasting their time? I, for one, am glad they want to charge you so you can stop wasting my tax money.

  22. Millers gone says:

    Check your facts folks, Gilhaus has already axed Mr. Miller. He’s gone the way of Julie Bear, Tim Yoho and Chuck Griffth, to name just a few of those who’ve crossed old Bill and lived to regret it.

  23. You are a liar and have no idea whatsoever as to my contacts to Mr. Gilhaus for information. My contact to him on the number of dropouts was sent on Oct. 22, 2010. My two previous contacts to him were on Oct. 2, 2009 and Nov. 29, 2007 – I would say I wasn’t causing him any great amount of work. Mr. Gilhaus and the School Board do not work for the citizens/taxpayers in my opinion and their words, actions, inaction and voting record prove that fact in my opinion.

    You, the cowardly accuser with false accusations, should start thinking about what you are saying – you could be held accountable.

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