Parents in many sections of Fairfax County will be watching tonight's school board meeting to see if their neighborhood elementary school will appear on a list of schools to be studied for closing.

The school-closing proposal, to be presented by school administrators, requires approval of the school board. The meeting to consider the plan begins at 8 o'clock tonight in the Robinson Secondary School cafeteria.

The administrators are expected to recommend that several small groups or "clusters," of schools with declining enrollment be scrutinized by the community.

If the school board approves the recommended set of clusters, which many observers expect it to do, community representatives will be appointed to study the various clusters and, by next spring, the community members will be expected to return to the board with recommendations as to which schools should be closed.

The board is scheduled to make a final decision on school closings at its meeting on May 7.

In other matters, the board will be asked to allow high schools to offer a one-credit elective course in sign language, under the auspices of foreign language departments. Administrators say the course is being proposed because sign language is the third most common language in the United States, and the ability to communicate with the deaf will enhance career opportunities for students.

The school board also will be asked to approve short-term and long-range goals for the school system that were drawn up at a three-day board retreat at the Airlie House in Warrenton in September.

At its last meting the board delayed action on the guidelines, but is expected to try to reach consensus tonight. Among the goals are those for student achievement, such as proficiency in basic academic and learning skills, the ability to reason and make decisions, and positive interpersonal relationships.