The Fairfax County School Board meeting last week was a mixture of mirth and melancholy as members sung the praises of several colleagues who are leaving the board -- and reminisced about matters of the past several years.
Former school board chairman Rodney F. Page, who recently resigned his post, was told he "embodied . . . all the qualities we hold dear," by fellow member Robert E. Frye who added that Page is the type of man "we hope our kids grow up to be."
Other board members praised Page's leadership and credited him with holding the board together during four stormy years.
Departing member Robert E. Smith was commended for his "soft-spoken manner" and his memory of the gentle art of persuasion.
No reference was made to Acting Chairman Ruth Dell's request that county Supervisor Sandra Duckworth (D-Mount Vernon) not reappoint her to the board. Dell angered her constituents when she voted with the school board majority to close two schools in the Mount Vernon district -- Hollin Hall and Hollin Hills. Duckworth is holding hearings July 15 on possible candidates for Dell's seat.
In other board matters, boundary adjustments were made in two-areas affected by school closings.
Hollin Hills community residents requested that students there be sent to Hollin Meadows, which is within walking distance for some students, rather than bused to Bellevue Elementary.
In addition, some residents in the Wilton Woods area asked the board to bus their children to Clermont Elementary School and not seperate them from their friends at Wilton Woods, which was one of the seven schools closed this spring.
During discussions of the boundary changes, board member Toni Carney said she would not support the changes because to do so would "set a dangerous precedent."
Board member Gary Jones, however, contended it was hypocritical of the board not to grant the changes, especially since residents had requested them for the good of the children involved. Throughout the school closings study, he noted, board members had insisted that the closings also were for the good of the children.
"Then we turn around and say we are afraid of setting a bad precedent," said Jones. "This is better for the community, better for the students."
Both changes were approved by 5-to-4 votes. One board member, Ann Kahn, was absent.