Three principals will move up to associate superintendent positions in Prince William County schools in the fall, replacing several longtime employees.

Marvin Thompson, principal at Kerrydale Elementary School since 2001, will serve as the area associate superintendent for Area IV. Area associate superintendents supervise 18 to 20 schools in a feeder area. The Area IV schools are on the eastern end of the county and include Woodbridge and Forest Park high schools. Thompson will replace William Birchette III, who left the school system.

"I'm excited," Thompson said Friday. "Having worked in this division for the last three years, it's really obvious we have quality people." Before joining the system, Thompson worked for the school systems in Chesterfield and Spotsylvania counties.

During Thompson's tenure, Kerrydale became fully accredited under the Virginia Standards of Learning guidelines. It also made "adequate yearly progress," a standard created under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In addition, the school has an extended-day kindergarten program to prepare children who need extra help before first grade.

The school has undergone many changes, adding many students who are learning English as well as special education students, Thompson said. "The teachers have kept up with that," he said.

Karen Spillman, Woodbridge Senior High School principal since 2000, will become the Area II associate superintendent. Area II includes western schools, such as Brentsville District High School, and schools on the other end of the county, including Gar-Field Senior High School and the new Freedom High School. She will replace Wayne Mallard, who is moving into another position.

Spillman said the move left her with mixed emotions. "Woodbridge has been my life for seven of the past 10 years," said Spillman, who also served as an assistant principal at Woodbridge. "This has been a great place to be."

Before joining Woodbridge, Spillman spent three years as director of curriculum and staff development for Prince William. The high school, which is fully accredited by the state, started a specialty program in fine and performing arts during Spillman's tenure. The program has enrolled students from all over the county.

Mallard will become associate superintendent for management, replacing the retiring Robert A. Ferrebee. Mallard has served as area associate superintendent for five years and before that was principal at Hylton High School for nine years. In his new position, Mallard will oversee several departments, including personnel, finance, risk management and planning and assessment.

Rae Darlington, principal of Graham Park Middle School, will become associate superintendent for Area III, replacing Kris Pedersen, who is retiring. Area III includes Osbourn Park and Potomac high schools.

Darlington, who was county principal of the year and state middle school principal of the year for 2002-03, joined Graham Park in 1998. Before that, she was an assistant principal at Stonewall High School.

During her tenure, Graham Park started evening school and extended days as an alternative to out-of-school suspension. She also designed a program called Path Finders as an option to alternative school for chronically disruptive students.