It's summertime and children aren't the only ones rushing to get out the door of suburban Virginia schools.
"I haven't seen my family for the past two weeks," said Alison May, who ended nine years on the Alexandria school board by announcing earlier this week that she's quitting her job as chairman.
Fairfax County school board chairman Rodney F. Page, a four-year veteran, yesterday became No. 2 to step aside. Page said he's giving up his post to spend more time with his family and his Washington law practice.
May and Page both cited long hours, low pay and the hassles of public life as reasons not to go on. "You get criticized even when you didn't vote with the majority on an issue," said May.
Arlington school board chairman Ann Broder, whose one-year leadership term expires this month, yesterday described her experience at the helm as "rotten."
"It's a very demanding job," she said. "No one ever laid down the gavel more happily than I will."
While the decisions by May and Page to leave were unexpected, pressures on school board officials have been heightened lately by such controversial issues as declining enrollment, school closings, and tight budgets.
During the last year, Page weathered an exhaustive search for a new county superintendent, teacher unrest over pay, school closings, a sex education dispute and a controversy over students' religious rights that wound up in the Virginia Supreme Court.
With his resignation, Page said, he hopes to "be able to see my two children again."
The pay for such service is nominal -- $4,500 a year plus expenses in Fairfax, and $1,500 annually in Alexandria. But the hours are phenomenal. All area chairmen say they spend between 10 and 60 hours a week on board matters.
"They don't do it for the money, that's for sure," said one Fairfax County supervisor yesterday.
Page, who described his last six months on the Fairfax board as really rough," said he may run for public office some time in the future, but he does not anticipate returning to the schools.
"At various times people have approached me about running for the House of Delegates," Page acknowledged yesterday. "I wouldn't rule out running for office some time."
Former Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chairman Emily Miller said Page had supported many candidates in the past and would make an attractive candidate himself.
"I think he would be a strong candidate because of his name recognition with the shcool board," Miller said. "He's been active in community life, which is something voters look for."
A replacement for Page on the board already has been selected by Supervisor Martha Pennino, in whose district the vacancy falls. He is Carmin C. Caputo, an electrical engineer employed by the Defense Communications Agency. Caputo has been appointed by Pennino to several other positions, including the one he now holds on the county's Environmental Quality Advisory Committee.
Caputo's name will be submitted to the board of supervisors for approval later this month.
Vice chairman Ruth Dell will act as head of the school board until the election for a new chairman is held in July.