Arlington School Superintendent Charles E. Nunley and his staff have split over which North Arlington elementary schools should be closed because of the county's declining school enrollment.

Earlier this year Nunley recommended that the board consider closing Reed and Tuckahoe elementary schools.

In a report released yesterday Nunley repeated that recommendation, but his staff urged that Reed and Barrett schools be closed.

"I find no compelling reason to change my original recommendation . . . , " Nunley said in the report, which the school board will consider Thursday night.

He cited changes in local housing developments as the major reasons for his recommendations.

A Michigan firm last week announced its plans to purchase and maintain as rental properties 980 units of the Buckingham Apartments, an action that Nunley said could bring more students into the Barrett school. Tuckahoe is projected to have 69 students less than the desired minimum, according to the report.

The staff recommendation to close Barrett is based largely on a desire to maintain ethnic diversity and to limit the number of students who would have to be transferred.

The staff report suggests as an alternative closing Reed and using Barrett for Montessori and special education students.

The board is considering closing Claremont Elementary in South Arlington and merging it with nearby Abingdon, a move Nunley recommends making this summer.

The report also recommends hiring a demographic consultant to help redefine attendance boundaries to improve ethnic diversity in secondary schools and suggests that Yorktown High School's students from South Arlington's Drew area be transferred to one of two high schools closer to their homes.

The report does not address recent concerns about the countywide busing for racial integration of black elementary school children from two South Arlington neighborhoods.

School Board Chairman Evelyn Reid Syphax plans to present a plan Thursday night that she says can be implemented along with the consolidation plans. A final decision on the closings is expected in May.