Stand by, Washington -- because today's the day everybody's favorite school board is scheduled to gather for the formal business of electing a president from among its lively number. Never mind that last night this glorious group met to take a stab at it -- or each other -- in private; that was just the members' highly unofficial way of doing public business without the embarrassment of any public witnesses to their shenanigans. Besides, things can change at the drop of a hat in any one of the three rings of this circus.

The list of hopefuls has been true to tradition, which is to say nearly all-inclusive. But we think the job of school board president this year might best go to Frank Shaffer-Corona. You gasp? Why not? After all, as much as any memer, Mr. Shaffer-Corona symbolizes the dedication of this board to the betterment of the city's public education program. Just the other week, for example, Mr. Shaffer-Corona put the finishing touches on a detailed letter to President Carter -- on D.C. Board of Education stationery, as usual -- telling the president how to "quickly solve the impasse that exists in the negotiations to release the hostages from Iran."

There's another reason for us to support Mr. Shaffer-Corona: in the considered judment of the board members on these august occasions, our endorsement of anyone for school board president has an automatic negative effect. That's why we hesitate to mention even slightly favorably the name of Frank Smith Jr., who is accused by some board members of having supported former superintendent Vincent E. Reed too much. Mr. Smith's detractors charge that he is inexperienced, and we all know so well just what experience on the board does for -- or is it to -- the members. Mr. Smith has said he wants to "get the presidency out of the center of controversy."

Our own observation was that Mr. Smith and the other board members who were not downright hostile to Dr. Reed could have done vastly more to keep him on the job. But you go with what you've got. After next fall's election, maybe Washington will have more to go with.