Longtime Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent George Arlotto will step down at the end of the school year in June.
Arlotto announced the move in a Dec. 2 letter to the school system community in which he said he wanted to stay in the job, but the school board declined to offer him another contract.
“While I would have preferred to remain, our Board of Education has made the decision to not offer me another contract,” Arlotto said in the letter. “This decision is one of the most important and unique for a Board of Education, as hiring a superintendent is solely in its purview.”
Arlotto first joined the school system in 2006 as a member of the superintendent’s senior and executive staffs and has been superintendent since 2014.
“I have every intention to continue my work on behalf of our students and school system until my contract expires at the end of June,” Arlotto wrote. “I wish our Board, our awesome staff, our families, and the Anne Arundel community only the best as you move forward, collectively, to support, nurture, and love our students.”
Arlotto’s letter cited in broad terms the challenges faced by the school system in adapting to teaching during the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These past 21 months have been difficult. Every one of us has been impacted by the pandemic,” he wrote. “While we have not all agreed on the path forward during these tumultuous times, please know that the well-being of our students and staff have always been at the forefront of every decision I have made.”
Arlotto is one of a number of school chiefs across Maryland to step down this year. Overall, school superintendents in Montgomery, Calvert, Talbot and Wicomico counties have recently stepped down, with most citing personal or family reasons.
Arlotto and the school board have disagreed at times in recent months.
Most recently, the superintendent announced a plan to offer three early dismissal days for staff and student wellness and to help alleviate staff workloads. But at board meeting last month, the board approved only one of the days and said it would convene a study group to look at teacher workload issues.
The district’s COVID-19 mask policy had also been a point of contention.
Before the start of the school year, Arlotto announced a plan to require masks for teachers and students in school buildings. The school board, however, initially scheduled a vote to make masks optional in schools.
“I cannot foresee supporting a long-term requirement on our students of wearing masks all day,” said Board of Education President Melissa Ellis at the time. She pointed to concerns about the potential psychological impact of mask-wearing.
Th Maryland State Board of Education later made face coverings mandatory in schools.
In a statement, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said: “Dr. Arlotto is a consummate professional with a huge heart and an unwavering commitment to children and education. He has served this county with distinction throughout his nearly eight years as AACPS Superintendent, and he will be missed. I am confident that Dr. Arlotto will facilitate a smooth transition, and that the Board of Education will choose wisely after a careful search for the superintendent who will lead us into the future.”