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Moon Elected School Board Chair

At-large member narrowly beats Dan Storck after current chair bows out of race.

After current chair Janie Strauss failed to win a majority of a vote last Thursday vote that would have kept her in the role for another term, the Fairfax County School Board member withdrew her name from the contest and cast her vote to help at-large member Ilryong Moon slide past her initial challenger, Dan Storck, for the position.

The board's first vote for a new chairman, traditionally held each July,  evenly divided the 12-member body between Storck (Mount Vernon) and Strauss (Dranesville), who had been chair for the past year and also served as chair from 2000 to 2001. 

The chair and vice chair are elected for one-year terms at the board's annual organizational meeting, usually held during its first regular meeting in July. The chair receives a stipend of $2,000 on top of the $20,000 received by each school board member annually.

Before the meeting, it became clear Strauss and Storck would reach a stalemate, Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill) said. Moon approached Hynes shortly before the vote to nominate him for the position, and she agreed, she said.

Hynes nominated and voted for Storck in his initial run against Strauss.

"We had two people nominated for chair and neither one could get a majority. We had to have another plan ... there had to be another way. And it seemed like [Moon] was able to get most of this board behind him," said Hynes, counting both of the board members among her mentors but ultimately casting her vote for Moon over Storck, giving him a 7-5 win.

Moon, the vice chair during the 2011-12 year, served as board chairman in 2006 and vice chairman in 2005.  

Storck, who served as board chair from January 2007 to July 2009, was narrowly defeated again for the position of vice chair by Hynes in another 7-5 vote.

Strauss, who supported Hynes along with Kathy Smith (Sully), Ryan McElveen (At-large), Tammy Derenak Kaufax (Lee), Moon and Ted Velkoff (At-large), called the Hunter Mill District rep's recent experience in FCPS classrooms a major asset to the board and the position of vice chairman.

Hynes, who left her job as a classroom teacher when is the first person with recent classroom experience to serve as vice chair since before the board was an elected body, Strauss said.

"You come in with a knowledge base other people just don't have," Hynes said after the meeting.

Along with running meetings, responding to member and board needs and appointing representatives and liaisons to committees, the chair is the official spokesperson for the board, reflecting the "spirit and intent" of the board to other government bodies and the community.

Many of those who supported Storck described the eight-year veteran of the board as a careful listener and consensus builder, adding he offered a chance for the board — half of which has served less than a year since being elected last fall — to head in a new direction.

It's a change "many of us ran on," member Patty Reed (Providence) said in her argument for Storck's leadership. 

"I feel we should all be given opportunities. I feel we should all take turns," she said, voting for Storck in both minority votes along with Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield), Sandy Evans (Mason), Megan McLaughlin (Braddock) and Storck. "Change may be a dirty word to some, but I think it's a good thing."

Reed, while commending Strauss' leadership, said there were several "hiccups" in the past year "concerning the role of the chair ... [and the chair] being a spokesman of this board." She said Storck was "careful" when he was representing his own opinion versus that of the board.

"It is integrity that makes me want to support Mr. Storck," she said.

Several members expressed disappoinment in Strauss during this spring's budget process: The board approved a spending plan that asked the county for an 8.4 transfer increase, but when Strauss appeared in front of county supervisors during a public hearing on the budget, she requested a smaller increase of 5 percent, a difference of $56 million.

Moon, a partner with the law firm of Moon, Park and Associates, served on the school board from 1995 to 1999 and again from January 2004 to the present. He was elected chairman in 2006 and served as vice chairman in 2005. 

He said the largest issues facing the board this year — aside from — are evaluating and dealing with a 2014 budget deficit the board is not yet sure how to balance.

The board meets again this week to approve a final budget review before taking a month-long break in August.

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