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Budget cuts cited as Elliott out as high school AD

After July 1, Glenn Elliott will no longer be athletic director at Hood River Valley High School, a position he has held since 1983.

Superintendent Jerry Sessions said budget cuts in 2002-03 require cutting Elliott's administrative position, that of assistant principal for athletics and activities. The job is one of three assistants at HRVHS. Sessions said the district will be considering a range of personnel cutbacks necessitated by the $1.2 million in reductions facing the district under the state budget crunch.

Yet more than budgetary concerns arose Wednesday night at the School Board meeting at May Street Elementary School.

A citizen and a coach raised fears at the meeting over losing Elliott as athletic director.

"This is a momentous recommendation," parent Rick Dills told the board.

Sessions said the district will make the AD duties a part-time portion of a nonadministrative teaching position to be advertised. He said he has worked for two other school districts of comparable size where the AD was a part-time job. Given budget cuts, he said "more and more in education demands increase and we'll not have the personnel to do (the work) the way we'd like to do."

Elliott, 46, is not being fired; he will still have a job with the district at least as long as his current contract is in effect, through 2004.

The decision as it affects Elliott's position was part of the annual contract renewal/nonrenewal resolution voted on each March by the board. Director Mike Oates was the lone vote against the resolution.

"I want more documentation before we make a decision. We need to take more time with this," Oates said. He referred to statements made during the meeting about Elliott's status change being due to performance rather than budget. (By law, the district each year must make its contract renewal decisions before March 15.)

It is up to Elliott to choose his next job. Sessions said that by April 15 Elliott must select another administrative or teaching position in the district for which he is qualified. Whoever Elliott "bumps" will in turn be apply seniority and take another position in the district. "He has a decision to make," Sessions said.

The process is known as "reduction in force," or RIF.

"We're not RIF-ing the person, we are RIF-ing the position," Sessions said.

Elliott said Thursday that he is unsure what he will do.

"I want to look at the options and I'll make that decision when I see what those options are," he said. Sessions said it is doubtful Elliott will remain at HRVHS.

"Teaching is part of my legal options," said Elliott, who started in Hood River as a teacher in 1982 and became AD a year later. "The administrative seniority identification will be interesting, and it will play greatly on my decision."

In Wednesday's meeting, district parent Rick Dills and HRV football coach Mitch Sanders both spoke in favor of keeping Elliott in his current position.

"I hope this isn't a decision based on a few shrill voices," Dills said in a 15-minute presentation to the board. "We believe he does a good job," said Dills, who said he spoke for a group of concerned parents. "It's (the AD) a job where it is impossible to please everyone. I think he has a job where it is the least possible to please everyone. For 20 years he has navigated those tough waters and always done so as a professional."

Sanders said that though he has had disagreements with Elliott during his four years as a coach, "not a day goes by that I'd rather have someone else in that position."

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