Political analysts will be able to stake their reputations on it: Come Nov. 3, the day after the School Board elections, Lucile S. "Lucy" Beauchamp will resume her role as chairman, a position she has held for six of the eight years she has served on the board.

Beauchamp faces no opposition, a situation for which she has two possible explanations. Either people are generally content with the direction of the board, or word has seeped out to potential candidates just how much work the position requires.

"It's not an easy job," said Beauchamp, 49, regional director of the Prince William United Way. "But I'm very, very pleased with what the School Board has done."

When asked to reflect on eight years of accomplishments, Beauchamp names programs that have fundamentally changed Prince William schools, though they are not often flashy achievements. The school district budget has been recognized for quality and long-term planning. And Beauchamp said the curriculum has been revised and strengthened in all subject areas. Three more schools were built and renovations were made to 14 others during Beauchamp's tenure.

On the school safety front, the board has taken a tough stance on young offenders. Beauchamp said that during her first year on the board, 35 students faced expulsion hearings. During the 1999 calendar year, 141 expulsion hearings have been held.

Beauchamp has refrained from active campaigning, saying that her participation might "muddy the waters" in some districts. But she does say that Prince William parents have a proven leader in her, someone ready to steer the School Board toward her number one priority: instruction and student achievement.

"I wanted to run again, to finish out some of these things that we've gotten started," Beauchamp said.