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Abby Raphael Elected New School Board Chair

School board member Abby RaphaelThe Arlington County School Board unanimously elected Abby Raphael as its new Board chair at its meeting Monday.

Raphael will serve for a one-year term, through June 2014. She replaces Emma Violand-Sánchez as chair, who remains on the board as a member. Raphael previously served as chair in the 2011-2012 school year.

James Lander was unanimously elected to serve as vice chair, replacing last year’s vice chair Sally Baird. Lander, elected to the Board in 2009, has not previously held a leadership position.

Usually, the previous vice chair ascends to the head position on the board, but Baird withdrew her name from consideration, per the Sun Gazette.

Raphael, a former Arlington Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney who started serving on the Board in 2008, said from the dais that the chair was “not something I sought or anticipated,” but vowed to tackle the board’s challenges in the upcoming year, including capacity issues and updating the schools’ capital improvement program.

“The Board will maintain its focus on student achievement and eliminating achievement gaps with an emphasis on retaining and developing our high quality teachers, recruiting more high quality staff, and reviewing various academic programs,” she said. “We also are aware that the fiscal climate continues to be a challenging one so we will focus on setting clear priorities for our Fiscal Year 2015 budget, continuing our evaluation of what is most effective and efficient in providing excellence in education for each student.”

Lander is the only member of the School Board up for election this November, and he narrowly won an endorsement battle in the Democratic endorsement caucus in May. A veteran of the Gulf War, Lander said from the dais that his focus “will be on results. Results matter.”

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