Saying he would prefer a job in a smaller school system, Anne Arundel County Superintendent Larry L. Lorton confirmed yesterday that he will resign June 30 when his four-year contract ends.
Mr. Lorton said that many personal and professional factors persuaded him to resign but that the decision saddened him.
"The last two days have been really tough emotionally," he said after a 30-minute news conference. "There's such a finality to it."
Mr. Lorton, 53, dismissed persistent rumors that the eight-member school board had decided not to renew his contract.
"The Board of Education has not said in any way, shape or form anything about non-renewal," he said.
Board member Maureen Carr-York said board members had discussed the superintendent's contract, but she would not say whether they were inclined to renew it.
School board President Jo Ann Tollenger declined to comment on Mr. Lorton's performance, saying she had not talked with other board members about his resignation.
Ms. Tollenger did not know whether the board would launch a national or local search to replace Mr. Lorton or whether the county would name a new superintendent before he leaves.
Mr. Lorton said his decision was prompted in part by increasing "philosophical differences" with the school board over the direction of the 66,000-student system. He would not elaborate, saying he did not want to sound "negative or critical."
He would not describe his personal reasons for leaving, saying only that his decision was not based on recent health problems and surgery last fall for a tumor in his colon.
He said acute budget problems made his job difficult in recent months but did not prompt him to resign. He attributed his dissatisfac
tion to the size of the school system, which he said made it difficult to interact with students and teachers.
Mr. Lorton, who began his teaching career in 1962, was superintendent of the much smaller St. Mary's County school system for eight years before taking the Anne Arundel County job in 1988.
He said he would probably seek a superintendent's position in a smaller school system.
Board members were reluctant to comment on Mr. Lorton's decision. Board member Vincent O. Leggett declined to comment.
"He's had major surgery and the budget situation -- which has been grueling -- has put a great deal of stress on him," said board member Dorothy D. Chaney.
Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teacher's Association of Anne Arundel County, said rumors that Mr. Lorton was being forced out "became more prevalent" after a December meeting during which Mr. Lorton and the board disagreed on how to handle employee furloughs. "Everyone started saying he was in trouble." Mr. Lorton "wasn't all good or all bad," he said.
Carolyn Roeding, president of the county's Council of PTAs, said she thought that Mr. Lorton has done a decent job during tough times.
"I've always found him easy to work with. He's been more accessible to the parents than his predecessor," she said.