Super Finalists

From left, George Arlotto, Maureen McMahon and Francisco Duran, all finalists for the job of Anne Arundel County Public Schools superintendent. (Photos of Arlotto and McMahon from AACPS; photo of Durn by Martin Griff, The Times of Trenton / April 12, 2014)

The search for the next superintendent of Anne Arundel County's public schools has been an exercise filled with numbers.

It's been nine months since Kevin Maxwell left the job for a similar post in Prince George's County, and one month since interim Superintendent Mamie Perkins announced that she wouldn't seek the permanent job.

From a field of 55 applicants, 12 were invited for a round of interviews. The list was then narrowed to seven candidates who went through a second round of interviews, and from that field the school system selected three finalists who have been reviewed by a committee of 20 school, community and professional representatives.

Now the key number is 23 — April 23. That's when the school board is scheduled to announce who will lead the state's fifth-largest school district.

Two of the finalists come from the county school system: George Arlotto is school system chief of staff and Maureen McMahon is assistant superintendent for advanced studies and programs. Each is vying to become the first school system employee to move up the ranks to superintendent since Carol Sheffey Parham in 1994.

The other finalist is Francisco Duran, superintendent of Trenton, N.J., public schools, a position he has held since 2012.

School officials say they'll spend the time leading up to the announcement performing background checks and commencing contract negotiations. School officials and the review committee have had their view of the candidates. Here's a look at all three:

George Arlotto

Arlotto was principal of Wheaton High School in Montgomery County in 2006 when that county's community superintendent said he was taking the superintendent's job in Anne Arundel County. That was Maxwell, and he asked Arlotto to join him.

The Washington resident, who began his education career as a science teacher in D.C.'s Woodrow Wilson High School obliged, leaving Montgomery County to become director of high schools in Anne Arundel in 2006.

"I knew I wanted to try my hand at central office, to take what I learned and knew as a high school principal and assist others from the central office level in assisting schools," Arlotto said. "I thought about it but had never pursued anything.

"When Dr. Maxwell called … I hadn't considered leaving Montgomery County or Wheaton High School," Arlotto said. "I was very comfortable there. But this was an opportune time, and I would be working for someone with whom I had the same mindset."

For Arlotto, 50, being appointed superintendent would culminate an Anne Arundel County schools career that has seen him lead or assist many of the school system's divisions, including presiding over two — the offices of school performance and curriculum instruction — simultaneously.

Arlotto said his first year as director of high schools included increasing access to Advanced Placement classes and testing for students.

He helped develop the school system's performance clusters, in which county elementary schools within an area feed into two middle schools, which then feed into a corresponding area high school. He also oversaw the school system's athletics and Title I programs.

As chief of staff, Arlotto monitors how legislation in the General Assembly affects the school system and oversees the school system's legal team. He also heads the school system's support services and public information office.

Arlotto said he has previously applied for other superintendent positions but declined to say which.

"Since my time here, in various positions in central office, I began to contemplate becoming a superintendent," he said.

He does say, however, that this marks the first time he's been a finalist for such a position. He said the process leading up to the board's decision has been "really good professional development for me."

"You don't have a lot of time in the education world to think of how you fit in, what your vision is," Arlotto said, "and this opportunity in the interview process … has led me to focus on who I am and where I fit into this eduction piece."