Torill B. Floyd, whose five children all attended Arlington County schools, was appointed last week to a four-year term on the county school board. She will succeed Diane Henderson, who decided not seek reappointment.
Floyd's appointment was approved by a 3 to 2 vote of the Arlington County Board, with board members Dorothy Grotos and Walter Frankland Jr., voting against the appointment. They called t the selection of Floyd a "charade" by the other three county board members.
Grotos and Frankland, both elected to the board with Republican endorsements, argued that their choice for the position, Barbara Frisbie, never received consideration from board Chairman John W. Purdy or board members Ellen Bozman and Joseph S. Wholey, who were endorsed by the Arlingtonians for a Better County (ABC).
"Our side, Mrs. Grotos and I, have tried repeatedly to nominate someone we've known or someone we believe in," Frankland said. "We can't seem to get any input in that school board that represents the electorate that put us on the board."
In an interview later, Floyd expressed an interest in one of the chief concerns of the Republican-backed board members - meeting county board guildelines for school spending.
A quiet-spoken woman, Floyd emphasized that she did not want to critize the current board, but she said it is important for the school board to stay within the country board guildeliness when preparing its budget and to "balance its priorities."
A"If the county board sets guideliness you've got to come in within those guidelines and make a very good case for an increase," she said. "I believe I would put what's possible in the budget."
Although she said she doesn't consider herself a "narrow, basics persons," Floyd said she would like to see more emphasis on basic skills as well tighter procedures so that children are not promoted when they have to attained the skills expected of their grade level.
Floyd, 52, is a native of Norway who practiced dentisery before immigrating to the U.S. in 1950. She is married to Thomas Floyd, former ABC chairman.
She continued, "I think the school should make darn sure that (students) do have those certain skills so they can compete in society. If you require more of kids they tend to live up to it."
Making students' promotion dependent on their mastery of basic skills would help create a school system that is more accountable to the county taxpayers, Floyd said. She stressed that establishing this accountability is one of her major goals on the board.
Floyd, who has been active in school system for some years as a volunteer and as a staff member at the tutorial center at Wakefield High School, said she supports the "optimum amount of choice that the school system can afford (while ensuring) that basic skills are taught." She praised the recent effort to stree writing skills as an example of the programs she has in mind.
"There's cartain amount of grammar children have to know to write well, and for a while we forgot about that (both locally and nationally)," she said. A naturalized citizen who speaks fluent English, Floyd said she can sympathize with the many non-English speakers in Arlington by the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program and recognizes its benefits. Yet she supports a recent school task force recommendation to the school board that many of the ESOL students meet the basic competencies required of other students in the system.
"In order to function in American society it's absolutely necessary to handle the language skills," she said.
Floyd, who will take office July 1, said that the accountability could be strengthened by better evaluation procedures for teachers and administrators. Although it is difficult sometimes to make personnel change because of the tenure system, she said, the school board should come up with a recommendation for a better system to evaluate professional performance.
Although she would not comment on any specific items in the recently adopted budget, Floyd said she supported "close to" a 7 percent wage increase for the school staff, especially in light of the percent raise given last year.
The school board approved a 5 percent increase last month after the county board cut the school budget by $1.28 million.
Floyd said she believes the county board's budget control, however, does not give it any control over the school sytem.
"As I see it they don't have line item control," she said. "In other words they don't set school policy."
One of the problems facing the school system, Floyd said, is the probalitity of more school closings. She suggested that a school-use plan be developed by the board, through a series of meetings with parents, students and teachers, so the community knows what to expect and will know if certain schools are apt to be closed.