During March’s school board meeting Monday evening, held at the middle school to accommodate the audience, parents and teachers spoke during the public forum, asking the board to reconsider its decision to not renew Principal Dave Elliott’s contract.
Elliott has been principal at Eugene Ware for more than 20 years, but the board decided during the executive session of their February meeting not to renew his hiring for the upcoming school year. Elliott is not eligible for retirement for two more years.
Parents and others involved in the school system spoke positively of Elliott and his kindness to and support for the students.
“Everyone in Fort Scott loves Mr. Elliott,” Sara Mills said. “All of us would like Mr. Elliott to renew his contract.”
Misty Adams said since Friday afternoon, a petition has received almost 350 signatures in support of rehiring him for the 2017-18 school year.
“He is a good asset to the school system,” Adams said, adding he is also a resource to those students without supportive family members. “For someone who’s given 20 years of service to the district, I feel like we can give him two more.”
Retired teacher Tami Lawrence said Elliott truly cares for his students, visiting their classrooms, taking them outside to play and even greeting them when he sees them off-campus. Lawrence added that even though Elliott is not from Fort Scott, as soon as he arrived and took his position, he began to invest in the town and his students.
“The kids know that he cares,” Lawrence said.
Those who spoke during the meeting expressed their desire to know why Elliott would not continue as principal. Some rumors that have been mentioned include school finances, low grades from Eugene Ware students and Elliott being written up for some violation of school policy.
Board Chairman Jordan Witt said the board is not allowed to comment during open session because it is a matter concerning personnel, but did say the board will consider all the comments and continue their discussions on the matter.
“It’s obvious that you love Mr. Elliott, and it’s obvious that he’s made an impact,” Witt said.
Other board members also expressed their appreciation to those that spoke and for their support and loyalty to the district and its staff. Board member Vanessa Poyner said she and the others plan to think on the comments made and will not make a rash decision.