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Head of Page Program to Depart Soon

After fewer than two years on the job, the deputy clerk in charge of the House Page Program is departing next month, leaving the future of the program unclear.

Maria Lopez declined a request for an interview, but Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), who was chairman of the House Page Board last year, said she is taking a post as principal of a school in California.

It’s unclear who will replace Lopez, or indeed whether House leaders will decide to retain the position, which boasts a salary of more than $170,000 and supervision of the page program.

Speaker John Boehner has not made the program as much of a priority as his predecessor.

At the start of the 110th Congress, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed board members the same month she took the gavel.

Boehner, however,  has yet to appoint members to the supervisory board, which includes two Members appointed by the Speaker, two by the Minority Leader, the House Clerk, the House Sergeant-at-Arms, a former page and the parent of a former page.

The Ohio Republican’s spokesman, Michael Steel, said in an email that there is no timetable to fill the empty slots. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said in an email that the California Democrat plans to appoint her two board members “soon.”

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), appointed by Boehner to the board in 2007, said the group has not officially met yet, but the program is not likely to see major change in the 112th Congress.

“It will always be under constant review, but as of now, no one is talking about doing anything dramatic,” he said.

One slight change will take effect next month. The summer semester, which is usually divided into two monthlong sessions, will be consolidated into one six-week term, Bishop said.

According to a solicitation for applications from the office of Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the session will run from June 26 to Aug. 5.

It will be the first session since the fall of 2009 without Lopez at the helm. The former director of academics at Langley High School in McLean, Va., is expected to stay through the pages’ spring session, which ends in early June.

Before her September 2009 hire, various employees handled different aspects of the page program, such as their work on the floor or dorm supervision, with the Clerk of the House in charge.

Clerk Karen Haas declined a request for an interview, but in written testimony submitted to Congress, she mentioned the position created under her predecessor, Lorraine Miller.

“The Page Program is an important responsibility of the Office of the Clerk,” according to Haas’ testimony. “Under the leadership of the Deputy Clerk of the Page Program and with the direction of the Page Board, we continue to explore opportunities to offer the Pages a complete legislative experience.”

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