At the final meeting of their term, Loudoun County School Board members took time to say farewell to their outgoing colleagues and offer guidance to board members who will take their seats at the dais next week.
Six of the nine board members finish their first term Dec. 31, two finish their second terms and Thomas Reed (At Large) closes out his fourth term. The new year will bring three new board members and one returning board member, Tom Marshall, in the Leesburg District.
During the Dec. 8 board meeting, Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) acknowledged that throughout the past four years there have been plenty of split votes, but she said she was thankful she and her colleagues could keep their relationships intact.
“There was never infighting. We found a way to work together,” said Turgeon, who will return for a second term next month. “I remember thinking at some point: I don’t want this to end.”
She recommended that the next board value that comradery as well. “The relationships on the board is really where the magic happens.”
Bill Fox (Leesburg), who was not successful in his bid for a second term, reminded his colleagues that four years ago, a lot of the changes he suggested were initially brushed off as “crazy ideas.” But some of those eventually took hold, including a reformed health care model for employees that has saved the school system several million dollars a year.
“So to the incoming board: Don’t take anybody’s word for what can and can’t be done,” he said.
Fox was beaten in the November election by Tom Marshall, who served on the board from 2008 to 2011, when Fox unseated him.
Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run), who will not return for a second term after Joy Maloney pulled ahead in the election, said he enjoyed his time on the board and saw it as an opportunity to make a great impact. “It was a great honor to serve,” he added.
He had a few words, not for incoming board members, but for constituents. “I want to say this to the community: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. I’m talking to the people who constantly want the School Board to do things, but you have to keep in mind that you have to pay for it all somehow.”
Jennifer Bergel (Catoctin), who did not seek re-election, acknowledged that she had to sacrifice time with her husband and four kids to serve on the board the past eight years. But she said she’s proud of what had been accomplished during her tenure, including the opening of Woodgrove High School and other much-needed schools in western Loudoun.
“I grew a thicker skin on this board,” said Bergel, who teaches at a high school in Fairfax County. “Because dealing with adults is more difficult than dealing high school kids.”
Chairman Eric Hornerger (Ashburn) applauded Thomas Reed (At Large) for his 16 years on the board. He is the current board’s longest serving member and he announced in February he would not seek a fifth term.
“He’s served as the institutional memory for this board in many instances, and he’s seen Loudoun County Public Schools through some of the biggest growth and challenges that we’ve had,” Hornberger said. “He will be missed.”