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Orr to scale back Rogue River duties

ROGUE RIVER — The Rogue River School District Board reluctantly accepted the resignation of Dave Orr, district superintendent and high school principal, on Thursday night. But last-ditch pleas and promises from board members to hire a new high school principal and keep Orr as a part-time superintendent did not fall on deaf ears.

"I've told (board member Mike Kuntz) I'd be willing to look at a part-time superintendent position," said Orr, to applause from staff and board members. "But I think it needs to be a unanimous board decision."

Orr, 55, who has worked in the public schools for 30 years, added the superintendent's job to his duties as high school principal last fall. Orr also served as the school district's curriculum director. He took on the multiple posts in September 2006 (after former superintendent Charles Hellman retired) to help the cash-strapped school district save about $60,000 per year.

Orr said in 2006 when he took on the three jobs that he would step away from doing them all if he thought the district's quality of education was slipping. Test scores and quality of education remain high in Rogue River, said Orr. But wearing too many hats and working too many 14 to 18-hour days have taken a heavy toll, he said.

"I'm disappointed in myself," said Orr, adding it was difficult for him to admit the combined pressures of the multiple jobs had become "too much."

"My best thing is communication," said Orr. "But I've been too exhausted and busy (to communicate to the level of my own expectations.)"

Board members acknowledged the load they had placed on Orr was extraordinary. Other school districts have combined the superintendent's job with that of school principals, but they are generally smaller than the Rogue River district, which has about 1,100 students.

Board member Johney Meyers offered to bring in a new high school principal, if the popular leader would stay at the district's helm.

"I do not want to see Dave leave," said Meyers, after making a failed motion that the board refuse to accept Orr's resignation.

"Dave. Come. Work with us here," said Meyers, to applause by other board members and staff.

Kuntz agreed Orr has done a "great job." Kuntz also urged Orr to remain, but added he would understand if Orr ultimately decided he did not wish to continue.

"You've got to decide if you have any time (left for us,)" said Kuntz. "But if you don't have it in you, you need to be honest with yourself."

Orr's official resignation was finally accepted in a 4-1 vote following a lengthy discussion. The door is still open, but Orr urged the board to carefully consider all their options, and his offer, he said.

"If the board unanimously offers me the position of part-time superintendent, I will seriously consider accepting that offer," said Orr.

The matter was continued to next Thursday's board meeting, said school board Chairwoman Trayce Geddes.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or at sspecht@mailtribune.com