It began two weeks ago with the surprise resignation of Fairfax County School Board Chairman Rodney F. Page, a year before his term officially expired.

Then Robert E. Smith, school board member from Annandale, followed suit by announcing he would not seek reappointment when his term ends June 30.

And last week, Vice Chairman Ruth Dell, whose term also ends June 30, announced that she, too, was jumping ship.

With two other terms expiring next week, the 10-member Fairfax County School Board found itself in the midst of a major metamorphosis and county supervisors, who appoint board members, were scrambling for new appointees.

At last count, at least three seats, and possibly four, will be filled with newcomers by mid-July.

The man who will take Page's seat, although not the chairmanship, is Carmin C. Caputo. Caputo was sworn in as the representative from the Centreville District last week.

The closing of seven elementary schools last month played a part in the decision by two other board members -- Smith and Dell -- to resign.

Both Smith and Dell voted for closing each of the seven schools. In Smith's case, that included one school -- Edsall Park -- in his Annandale District; for Dell, the vote included two schools -- Hollin Hills and Hollin Hall -- in her Mount Vernon District.

Even if Smith and Dell had sought reappointment, the community disapproval over the school closings would have made it difficult for election-minded supervisors to reappoint either one of them.

Even before Smith announced his decision to quit, a member of a citizens advisory group screening school board applicants for the Annandale seat said Smith had "effectively resigned when he voted to close schools in his own district." The committee member said she would reject Smith's name if he sought reappointment.

Dell was also a victim of school consolidations. With the closing of Hollin Hall and Hollin Hills, she became a favorite target of disgruntled parents from those two schools who vowed to thwart her reappointment.

But signs of a split between county Supervisor Sandra L. Duckworth and Dell (who was appointed by Duckworth's predecessor) were apparent a week before the school board vote on the closings. Duckworth appeared at a public hearing, where she cautioned the board to think very carefully before closing any schools.

When Duckworth announced earlier this month she was actively seeking applicants for Dell's seat and would make a final decision only after a pulbic hearing on July 15, Dell announced Dell resignation.

The timing of Duckworth's hearing efectively prevented Dell from being considered for the board chairmanship, which will be decided at the school board's July 10 reorganizational meeting.

The terms of two other board members -- Toni Carney from Springfield District and Ann Kahn from the Providence District -- also expire June 30.

Supervisor Marie B. Travesky (R-Springfield) announced earlier this month her decision to reappoint Carney to another two-year term. She said that elected officials serve four-year terms and indicated that an appointee should be given at least that long to serve. Travesky said she will open the appointment process to the public after Carney has served two full terms.

Travesky held an open forum with Carney and about 40 PTA presidents and civic leaders last week. The audience demonstrated strong support for Carney's reappointment -- applauding loudly when an audience member thanked Travesky for reappointing Carney.

For Ann Kahn, reappointment is not so certain. Supervisor James M. Scott (D-Providence), who appointed Kahn to the board in 1973, has said he will ask for advice from citizens in his district, a practice he initiated seven years ago, before making a final decision on the appointment.

Each of the three times Kahn has come up for reappointment, she has been the popular choice of Providence citizens, and if reappointed, she is regarded as a likely candidate for school board chairman.

This year, however, Kahn may be opposed by parents at Walnut Hill, one of the seven schools closed. Kahn voted with the majority in approving all seven school closings.

At the board meeting where school closings were decided, both Kahn and Dell made motions to delay school closings in their districts, however, the motions failed and both then voted to approve the seven-school closing package.

During the next several weeks three supervisors, Duckworth, Audrey Moore (D-Annandale) and Scott, are receiving applicatons for the school board slots in their respective districts and have scheduled public forums with the finalists.

Those hearings:

Scott (Providence): 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, the Oakaton High School cafeteria.

Moore (Annandale): 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 9, Kings Park Library.

Duckworth (Mount Vernon): 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 15, Mount Vernon High School Little Threatre.