The Loudoun County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to transition to staggered terms starting with the next election in 2023.
The board, at the suggestion of Vice Chairwoman Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian), requested the authority from the General Assembly and the new law was approved this year.
The current board was elected in 2019, with only two returning members and seven serving in elective office for the first time.
Under the state law, the next step will come in May or June in 2023, when the Electoral Board will select at random the four districts where voters will select representatives serving four-year terms. Those elected to the other five seats will serve two-year terms. Then School Board members elected in 2025 also will serve four-year terms.
Jeff Morse (Dulles), who was one of the returning board members along with Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling), said he has long supported the change. Board members discussed making the switch eight years ago, but never followed through, he said.
“It is important to have continuity,” Morse said. “If you look at the most recent election, we saw significant turnover on the board. It’s been very challenging to carry on a lot of the knowledge, a lot of the corporate knowledge, with the School Board. I think this goes a long way in alleviating that and alleviating the pressure on the public if we go to perhaps reelect an entire School Board. By staggering it, perhaps the way that the U.S. Senate does, will provide a layer of stability in what could be a very tumultuous election.”
Denise Corbo (At Large) asked if her seat could be excluded.
Reaser noted that at one point in Richmond legislators looked to require the At Large seat to reset as a two-year term, but ultimately left the selection up to a random drawing of lots. The board did not have the authority to ensure the seat remained a four-year term during the transition.
“It was apparent even before COVID happened that a large turnover on the board was not what is seemingly best in terms of putting pressure on the division whose main goal should be to serve students,” Reaser said. “When there is a large turnover, it naturally takes some of that attention from the business of the division to on boarding new board members.”
Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) thanked Reaser for shepherding the legislation.
“I think going into the next [election] cycle, this would definitely stabilize the board and for all children’s sake there some continuity—continuity of leadership and continuity of knowledge,” he said.