School Board member John David Allen Sr., who has represented the Coles District for seven years, resigned at the start of last week's meeting, saying afterward that his health would not allow him to continue.
Allen, 58, has been treated for depression and lymphoma. In remarks to the board, Allen said he was asked three years ago, when his depression was made public, whether he would resign.
"At that time I said no, but I did say that if a condition would prevent me from carrying out my duties, my resignation would be a consideration," he said.
After the meeting, Allen said he had reached that point.
"We started thinking about this about a month ago. Everyone was trying to look for a way where I could still serve," he said. "But, it's just not fair to the constituents to be out and missing meetings because of treatments."
Allen noted that School Board members often spend 25 to 30 hours a week on board business.
The board has 45 days to appoint a successor to finish the remainder of Allen's term, which expires at the end of 2003. In October, Julie Lucas (Neabsco) was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Mary F. Williams, who died in September.
Allen was first elected in 1995, winning reelection in 1999. A contract manager at Potomac Hospital, Allen is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and has several commendations, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. His son, John David Allen II, a graduate of Hylton High School, is serving in the Army.
During his time on the School Board, Allen said he was most proud of an agreement forged between the school district and the Board of County Supervisors that has made budget planning more smooth. Instead of lobbying the supervisors for money each year, the school district gets a predetermined percentage of county revenue. He said he is also proud of the number of schools that have been built and renovated during his tenure.
Allen is also proud of the specialty school program, he said. In Prince William, all high schools, most middle schools and several elementary schools have programs that allow students to study a subject in depth. Students can freely transfer among the schools, with the county providing transportation.
"That's fantastic. You don't have that in a lot of other districts," Allen said.
At the end of last week's meeting, board members had kind words for their colleague. Member Steven Keen (Woodbridge) said that when he first joined the board, he had a hard time breaking in.
"John Allen made it no easier for me. And I thank him for it," Keen said. "He was always tough on me, but in a way that said, I care about you."
Member Lyle G. Beefelt (Brentsville) said the board had lost "a warrior."
"He was defending our country in a foreign land when I was playing backyard baseball," Beefelt said. "He is a credit to Prince William County."
The School Board also decided to postpone a vote on a revamped social studies curriculum that would change what classes middle and high school students must take.
The proposal, which came from school staff, would make World History and Geography From 1500, commonly called World History II, an optional course for high school students. Some teachers criticized the plan, saying students would miss instruction on relevant world events if the course wasn't required. Bruce Leiby, the curriculum director for social studies, said the changes would ensure that more student succeed in social studies.
The board plans to discuss the issue at its Dec. 6 meeting.