Paul Vance, the number two official in the Montgomery County school system, said he was just as surprised as anyone to see his name listed in yesterday's Washington Post as being among the semifinalists in the search to replace Floretta D. McKenzie as superintendent of D.C. public schools.

Vance, who said he has not applied for the post and does not wish to be considered for the top spot in the 87,000-student system, spent much of the rest of the day making it clear -- to D.C. officials and his own bosses -- that he does not plan to leave Montgomery anytime soon.

In a letter that was to be mailed yesterday to R. David Hall (Ward 2), the D.C. school board member heading the superintendent search, Vance said he is "honored" to be considered for the job but "I have not talked to anyone about this job, nor have I submitted an application for the position . . . . I am not a candidate." Vance explained in the letter that he has been deputy superintendent in charge of day-to-day operations for the 97,000-student Montgomery system for only eight months. He said he has made a commitment to Superintendent Harry Pitt and the Board of Education to "devote all of my energies to fulfilling that position."

D.C. school search committee officials could not be reached for comment last night.