A divided Alexandria City Council reappointed three School Board members last night despite the council's complaints that the board has become aloof, has routinely sought unreasonably high budgets and may have failed to provide adequate study plans for accelerated and minority students.

Concluding several days of behind-the-scenes debate, during which council members said they considered replacing all three incumbents, the council reelected Judith S. Seltz, Gene C. Lange and Nelson E. Greene Jr. to their third consecutive three-year terms on the nine-member board.

Greene received unanimous support from the seven-member council, while Seltz and Lange got six votes each. Challengers Patricia-Ann Hennig and Richard E. Patrick received one vote each.

Council member Redella S. "Del" Pepper publicly rebuked the board members after the vote. "I certainly do not want anyone to feel this was any great endorsement of our incumbents or the School Board. The {public} pressure to remove all, or at least one, was unprecedented."

Council member T. Michael Jackson asked the School Board to reverse its habit of recent years and submit more responsible budgets. "Please, bring us a budget that falls within the {city} guidelines," he asked.

In interviews hours before the vote, several council members said they had heard from parents at several schools, especially George Mason Elementary School in the city's affluent Braddock Heights neighborhood, that the curriculum for advanced students had been watered down in recent years to accommodate slower learners.

Parents have also expressed concern about the continued low test scores of students targeted by minority achievement programs, according to council members.

"There is a perception in the community that maybe the School Board has not been as strong in terms of guidance as it should be," Vice Mayor Patricia S. Ticer said in an interview.

Ticer added that "perception becomes the problem" if the board does not act quickly enough to investigate and address allegations such as those at George Mason, where several parents recently said they would withdraw their children because of curriculum and discipline problems.

Superintendent Paul W. Masem said his office had circulated surveys to George Mason parents and teachers in an attempt to identify the roots of complaints. A committee of school officials and citizens will be formed next month to assess the survey results.

Although council members said some of the seven challengers for the School Board this year offered solid credentials, they said the incumbents possessed invaluable experience when the school system is about to enter a difficult period of attendance-area redistricting.

"We're going to need an experienced board to get us through redistricting," said council member Jackson. Seltz is completing her second term as chairman, and Lange has served one year as vice chairman.

The school-age population has shifted to the city's West End and to lower grade levels, raising the likelihood that new school boundaries will be drawn and middle schools will be formed to house grades six through eight. Alexandria now has two junior high schools with grades seven through nine.

Masem described redistricting as the most difficult task a school board faces, adding that parents often respond emotionally when their children are transferred to a new school or moved out of elementary school one year earlier.

In other business, the council received a task force report on the Army's Cameron Station, calling for the 164-acre military post to be sold after it is shut down in 1995. Under the proposal, the site would be predominantly residential with some commercial, retail and recreational space. This fall, the council will deliver a formal proposal to the Department of Defense, which recommended in 1988 that the 170-year-old post and several others across the country be closed as part of a cost-cutting effort.

Military officials said this week they would try to accommodate the city's desire for private development, which would raise the city's tax base. Several agencies, including the Navy, the Postal Service and the U.S. Information Agency, have expressed interest in the property.