Two candidates, Sharon E. Davis, a congressional staff member endorsed by the Democratic Party, and David M. "Dave" Foster, a lawyer endorsed by the nonpartisan Arlingtonians for a Better County (ABC), are running for a seat on the Arlington County School Board.

Foster, 46, is married with two children in the Arlington public schools. He has served on the executive boards of the County Council of PTAs and Arlington United Way, was co-chairman of the 1996 School Bond Campaign and is a past president of the Arlington County Civic Federation.

Davis, 48, is married with one child in the Arlington public schools and another recently graduated and in college. She has served on the executive boards of three school PTAs, is a former member of the George Mason University Board of Visitors and a former chairman of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

In her campaign, Davis has emphasized accountability for teachers and administrators, more individualized attention, challenging courses and academic success for all students, competitive teacher benefits and both excellent neighborhood schools and alternative programs.

Foster's campaign has focused on smaller class sizes and smaller schools, more preschool programs to ensure English proficiency, improved technology in the classroom, greater accountability to parents and taxpayers for results, improved test results and more parental involvement.

"I support strengthening each of our schools and undergirding them with the resources they need to thrive," Davis said. "With a vibrant mix of neighborhood schools and alternative programs, Arlington will remain a distinctive, successful public school system."

She said she would work to keep neighborhoods together when school boundaries are changed and would improve the marketing of each school. "Parent power is a wonderful help," she said, "but the school system itself needs to add oomph to the marketing effort with professional, sustained assistance."

When the school system is creating alternative schools that draw children out of their neighborhoods, she said, the best programs respond to particular instructional needs. She speaks approvingly of the early childhood development program at Claremont Elementary, the strong phonics program at Arlington Traditional School and the International Baccalaureate program at Washington-Lee High School.

Foster said: "I will continue my efforts to reduce class size, ensure English proficiency and strengthen schools in every neighborhood. Smaller classes will allow teachers to take advantage of Arlington's unique diversity and to challenge each and every student."

He said the board should be particularly careful to avoid "hasty, careless and ill-advised judgments" as it decides on boundary changes. "Where less disruptive alternatives are available, we must fully explore them," he said.

He has proposed the creation of a fiscal affairs advisory committee for the school board, similar to the committee of residents that now makes recommendations to the County Board on budget proposals and priorities. He emphasized in statements aimed at taxpayers without children in the public schools that efficient school operation will mean better value for tax dollars.

On issues addressed by the board, Foster has leaned in favor and Davis leaned against paying for Arlington students to attend Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax. Davis has leaned in favor of and Foster leaned against a pilot program using Spanish to teach some elementary school students from non-English speaking families.

ARLINGTON COUNTY OFFICES: School Board At Large

Sharon E. Davis

Age: 48.

Residence: Arlington.

Education: BA, sociology, Hollins University; MPA, George Mason University.

Occupation: Chief minority clerk, Committee on Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives.

Elected offices/civic activities: Arlington County Task Force on Families; committee chairman and Long Branch Elementary School representative, Arlington Public Schools Task Force on Futures; co-founder and board chairman, Arlington Infant and Child Education Center; member, PTA Executive boards, Long Branch Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School and Washington-Lee High School; chairman, George Mason University Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Committee.

Family: Married; two children.

Why should the voters elect you?

"I have the broadest experience in education and activism, from my hands-on work in early childhood education, to 15 years of service in neighborhood Arlington schools, policymaking on the George Mason University Board of Visitors and 20 years as a senior congressional staff member. I am a lifelong Arlingtonian, a proven community-builder and a parent who has worked in the trenches at all levels, from preschool to high school. I will continue to push for accountability for teachers and principals, high expectations and individualized attention for each child, strong neighborhood schools and alternative programs and better communication with families."

What would you like voters to know about you?

"I am wholeheartedly endorsed by every school board member, 10 past presidents of the Arlington Education Association, Arlington's legislative delegation and four county board members."

Web site: www.arlingtondemocrats.org/sharondavis

E-mail address: sharondavis@erols.com

David M. 'Dave' Foster

Age: 46.

Residence: Arlington.

Education: BA, JD, University of Virginia.

Occupation: Attorney, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.

Elected offices/civic activities: Co-chairman, 1996 School Bond Campaign; executive board member, County Council of PTAs; member, Arlington Public Schools Strategic Planning Committee; advisory board member, Arlington Community Foundation's Education Fund; president, Arlington County Civic Federation.

Family: Married; two children.

Why should the voters elect you?

"This race offers a choice between stark contrasts. Unlike my opponent, I have worked on behalf of Arlington's public schools in leadership positions--and I am running an independent, nonpartisan campaign. These qualities earned me the endorsements of the Arlington Education Association, which represents our teachers, and the nonpartisan Arlingtonians for a Better County. We must have greater discipline and responsibility in school spending; smaller class size; more intensive efforts to help our ESL students and families to develop English proficiency; and a more open and accountable system that listens to our citizens and welcomes their involvement."

What would you like voters to know about you?

"I have demonstrated my commitment to Arlington and its schools through years of active involvement in leadership positions. I know how to get things done."

Web site: www.davefoster.com

E-mail address: dfoster@fulbright.com