April 05, 2002 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Dan Arriola is stepping down as superintendent of the La Grade School District one year after being hired.

Arriolas resignation is effective June 30.

School board chairman Ron Arritola is disappointed that Arriola is leaving.

Everyone on the board is pleased with the job he has done. We would have liked to see him stay until retirement, the chairman said.

Arriola plans to return to Idaho where he grew up and has spent much of his education career, said Jay Rowell, the school districts personnel and curriculum director.

Arriola, who could not be reached for comment, served as superintendent of Idahos Marsing School District near Boise from 1994 to 2000.

Arriola wants to be closer to his father, who lives in Boise, Rowell said. His father has experienced health problems in recent years.

Arriolas tenure as superintendent has been brief but eventful. La Grande Middle School Principal Doug Hislop credits Arriola with a number of accomplishments.

He has taken us through some very difficult times, Hislop said.

The closure of Riveria Elementary School is one of the biggest issues Arriola has dealt with.

The school board voted last month to close Riveria in June because it is becoming too expensive to operate and poses safety hazards. A recent seismic study found that Riveria, built in 1912, would be extremely vulnerable in the event of an earthquake.

The board voted to close Riveria after a community committee Arriola formed recommended that the school be shut down. The decision generated relatively little controversy, in part because the community committee operated independent of the school district.

The LMS principal credits Arriola with handling things

like the Riveria closure with sensitivity.

He is a strong people person. He is concerned about people and their feelings, Hislop said.

Rowell has similar sentiments. He is completing his first year as personnel and curriculum director after serving as a grade school principal in the La Grande School District for four years. Rowell said Arriola has made his transition much less difficult.

Hes been a excellent mentor for me, Rowell said.

Rowell noted that Arriola made a point of involving him in every step of the budget-building process. This has given him a global picture of how the budget process works, he said.

Rowell also lauds Arriola for his thoroughness.

He is very thoughtful. He thinks about all sides of an issue before he acts.

Rowell added that once Arriola decides to act, he moves


Arriola came to the La Grande School after serving as superintendent of the Tillamook School District in 2000-2001. He succeeded Jerry Sessions, who left La Grande after two years to become superintendent of the Hood River School District.