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An administrative leave that will allow Centerville Elementary Principal Ross Quist to earn his doctorate at Utah State University next year has been approved 4-1 by the Davis Board of Education.

Board member Robert Thurgood opposed the leave, which will give Quist half salary for the year and guarantee his return to either the same position or a similar position for the 1989-90 school year.Thurgood said he has no problem with teachers and administrators improving their education and other skills but believes it is unfair to use tax dollars to support a limited number of employees through administrative leave programs.

"We have people coming to us every day seeking funds for different programs in the schools," Thurgood said. "I think it is unfair to spend this money that could go to other programs for the kids."

Thurgood found himself at odds with other members of the board. Henry Heath said he views the program as one with broad application that ultimately benefits students because of employees' improved skills.

Louenda Downs agreed, saying she would not support such programs if she did not believe the students were the ones ultimately receiving benefits. "I think these programs are the ones that help us find the innovations we are looking for."

Quist has received a teaching and research fellowship at USU. The district plans to have him return to Centerville Elementary at the end of his leave. An interim principal has been appointed for next year.