Chairman Joseph W. Vogric (Dulles) won reelection Tuesday to lead the board for the sixth consecutive year, fighting off a challenge from a newly elected member, J. Warren Geurin (Sterling).
Geurin also lost on a proposal to change next year's school calendar for teachers from 198 days back to its current number, 193, because no pay will be added to instructors' base salaries for the extra time.
Mixing collegiality with contentiousness, the new School Board made its first public appearance Tuesday, beginning its four-year tenure by sparring over the upcoming school calendar as well as a host of minor school policies.
Vogric said he was pleased with the tenor of the meeting--including the increased debate. "I thought we did pretty well tonight," he said, adding that he expects board members to find more common ground in future months.
"I think you'll see some flexibility in the votes," he said.
Vogric, 43, was elected 5 to 4, with members Candyce P. Cassell (Sugarland Run), Patrick F. Chorpenning Jr. (Mercer), Frederick F. Flemming (Leesburg) and Harry F. Holsinger (Blue Ridge) voting for him. Vogric voted for himself.
John A. Andrews II (Broad Run), Geary M. Higgins (Catoctin) and Tom Reed (At Large) raised their hands in favor of Geurin, who also voted for himself, in the open ballot format. Holsinger, 63, was elected unopposed as vice chairman for the third year. The board holds elections yearly for the chairman and vice chairman seats.
Geurin shows signs of being one of the most active members of the board. Although it appeared before the meeting that he did not have the votes to oust Vogric, he said he ran anyway "to give our guys a chance to vote for someone else."
He also sought to squelch rumors widely circulating in the school community that he, Andrews, Higgins and Reed were banding together as a conservative coalition. "I don't think there's a majority bloc forming here," Geurin said.
Nearly 50 teachers packed the School Board meeting in hopes that Geurin and other new board members would overturn a recent decision to extend the calendar year by five days for lesson planning and meetings with colleagues and parents.
Many instructors object to the extended year--even though they have said they need more planning time--because they are not being compensated for it.
School Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III has proposed $16.7 million in next year's budget request that would give teachers an average raise of 10 percent.
But it is unclear whether the Board of Supervisors will finance the hefty increases, and many school officials and teachers contend that extra pay for extra time should be added to their salaries before any raise is calculated. If not, the teachers would work longer for less money.
"This would be an injustice if it were to occur," said Kristine Condie, a teacher at Harper Park Middle School in Leesburg, who added that teachers now do much of their planning on their own time. "We already work the hours, now pay us what we deserve."
Jeffrey Dunn, who also teaches at Harper Park, said, "To separate the calendar from a substantial pay increase would be unfair to the teachers."
Kimberly Finnegan, a teacher at Rolling Ridge Elementary School in Sterling, was the only instructor who spoke in support of the extended year. "With or without the raises, this calendar will be a benefit to us and to our children," she said.
Geurin urged his fellow board members to restore the 193-day calendar "as a way for us to repair the damage done to our teachers by a lame-duck School Board."
But other members, including Holsinger, Reed and Flemming, said an extended calendar may help sway reluctant supervisors to support raises for teachers.
"We've lost some muscle with the Board of Supervisors," Flemming said. "If we don't get the bucks, I'd be the first to say we go back to the 193-day calendar."
The board voted 6 to 3 to table the 193-day proposal, with Geurin, Higgins and Andrews dissenting. Afterward, Kelly Burk, president of the Loudoun Education Association, condemned the decision as "a gutless move" and said the new board is "continuing to use teachers as pawns."
CAPTION: JOSEPH W. VOGRIC . . . reelected by 5 to 4