FAIRMOUNT — Phil Nikirk, the outgoing principal of Anderson High School, will assume the top administrative position at Madison-Grant High School beginning this summer.

Nikirk, 53, announced earlier this year that he was retiring after 28 years at Anderson High School, the last seven as principal. On Monday, the board of Madison-Grant United Schools unanimously voted to hire him as its high school principal.

Nikirk said his aim was never to retire completely from education.

“My plan was to look somewhere else and pursue some other opportunities, and Madison-Grant was the one I decided on,” he said.

John Trout, superintendent of Madison-Grant schools, said an 11-member selection committee chose Nikirk from a pool of 15 applicants.

“We reached a consensus that he was our lead candidate, and we are very happy that he’s going to be coming here,” Trout said.

Nikirk is leaving a high school of about 1,500 students to work at a school a third that size. He said the new position will offer him the chance to help the school expand its curriculum.

“I think that where they are as a school, where they are as a corporation, really fits some of the things I want to do,” he said.

Larry Quarles, Anderson High School’s assistant principal, will step up to the lead administrator position July 1.

Nikirk said his replacement is prepared to continue the progress made in recent years.

The Indiana Department of Education in April removed Anderson High School from its list of schools on academic probation after three years of adequate standardized test scores.

But a low graduation rate continues to mar the school. Anderson High School’s graduation rate was 53.4 percent in 2007, more than 20 percentage points below the state average.

Madison-Grant High School’s graduation rate was 67.4 percent for the same year.

ACS Superintendent Mikella Lowe said mentoring and remediation programs have helped Anderson High School make progress under Nikirk, but the school and others in the corporation still have “a way to go.”

Nikirk taught special education before becoming a school administrator. He was assistant principal for two years and then principal.

He also coached baseball, volleyball and football during nearly three decades at the school.

“There’s a part of me that hates to leave, and there’s a part of me that’s really excited to be moving on to something new and different,” he said.

His wife, Marcia, will continue to teach at Anderson High School for at least the next few years. The couple do not plan to move from their home near Anderson, Nikirk said.

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