The Alexandria School Board has chosen three finalists in its four-month search for a school superintendent, two of whom have been involved in desegregation efforts and a third, from Alexandria, who has spent the last 10 years managing the school system's financial affairs.

The board's search for a replacement for retiring superintendent, Robert W. Peebles, began in March with 83 candidates and has included night-long board conferences and trips across the country.

A final selection for the $77,742 position is set for Monday evening.

One of the finalists is Shirli Vioni, who has been program director for defense products at Honeywell Inc. in Minnesota since 1985.

Vioni quit her position as superintendent of the 6,400-student school system in Wayzata, Minn., after an intense dispute over tax referendums deteriorated into a bitter school board fight that took on racial overtones, according to Alexandria school board member Sandra Lindsey. Before leaving Vioni threatened to sue the board for defamation of character, Lindsey said.

Vioni worked in Wayzata from 1983 to 1985, according to her resume. She was superintendent in Pleasantville, N.J., from 1981 to 1983, and was an assistant administrator in the Cleveland school system's court-ordered desegregation office in 1979.

Vioni has a doctorate of education and has attended Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati.

Paul Masem, another candidate, has been superintendent of the 5,000-student school system in Ames, Iowa, since 1982. He was superintendent of schools in Little Rock, Ark., from 1978 to 1982.

Lindsey said Masem was hired in Little Rock to continue desegregation efforts in the schools and the central administrative office. His work was praised as well as criticized in the community.

"They were not ready for him," Lindsey said.

Masem has also worked in administrative positions in several Maryland districts, including Hagerstown, Montgomery County and Washington County He has a doctorate in school administration from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

The third candidate, William F. Leonard Jr., 43, has been Alexandria's assistant superintendent for Finance and Administrative Services since 1984.

From 1978 to 1984, Leonard was assistant superintendent for finance and data processing. Before that he was assistant superintendent in Yuma, Ariz. Since 1971, he has worked in other school administrative positions in New York and Pennsylvania.

Leonard has a doctorate in educational administration from Pennsylvania State University.