A year ago, when the Loudoun County schools found 135 new teachers for the start of the school year, not one black was hired. This summer, four of 110 new hires are black, according to a recent report from the school system personnel office.

In addition, Loudoun has just retained a black assistant principal, Personnel Director Sharon Ackerman noted at Tuesday's county School Board meeting.

Six of the 110 instructors hired so far this summer are minorities, Loudoun officials said. Three black women, one black man, one Hispanic woman and one woman of Asian descent had been hired as of Tuesday, with just a few positions yet to be filled for the fall semester.

Loudoun's black teacher hiring rate still lags behind the region's other suburban public school systems, which last year averaged 14 percent. But officials of the 14,000-student Loudoun system expressed pleasure last week with their improvement.

County education officials had set a target range of five to 10 minority hires for this summer, said Ackerman, adding, "We're feeling very good" about this year's numbers.

Officials credited the work of a Loudoun minority recruitment task force, which was set up last winter, for helping the school system find qualified blacks and other minorities and for getting them to come in for interviews in Loudoun.