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Robert R. Spillane, the superintendent of schools in Fairfax County, Va., is stepping down to take a new job this week with the U.S. State Department's office of overseas schools.

The office provides assistance to 196 private, independent schools worldwide. Mr. Spillane has been named the regional education officer for Europe.

Once again, he will succeed William J. Burkholder, who ran Fairfax County's schools before Mr. Spillane replaced him in 1985.

Mr. Spillane decided to end his 12-year tenure with the 150,000-student system in suburban Washington after the school board, with whom he had often clashed, voted last spring not to renew his contract beyond June 1998.

An innovative and outspoken superintendent, Mr. Spillane in 1986 implemented a highly controversial plan that tied teacher performance to extra pay. The school board voted to phase out the plan in 1993.

Mr. Spillane, who was selected by the American Association of School Administrators as the National Superintendent of the Year in 1995, headed the Boston public schools before going to Fairfax County. In 1995, he was among two other finalists considered as replacements for New York City Schools Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines.

Larry Mixon, the former superintendent of the Columbus, Ohio, schools, has taken a new position with the system as the executive director of transportation.

Mr. Mixon stepped down as superintendent July 31 after his five- year contract came to an end. As transportation director, he will oversee an $18 million budget and 500 school buses. He made $114,000 a year as superintendent; his new job has a salary of $87,620.

The school system tapped Rosa A. Smith, a former Beloit, Wis., superintendent, to replace him. Ms. Smith is the first African-American woman to head the Columbus schools. Her salary had not yet been determined. ... The Cambridge, Mass., school system has named Bobbie D'Alessandro, a former superintendent in Lee County, Fla., to head its schools. School officials were still negotiating the terms of Ms. D'Alessandro's contract last week.

Ms. D'Alessandro will replace Mary Lou McGrath, who retired after 40 years in the 8,000-student system.

--ADRIENNE D. COLES [email protected]

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