Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr makes a grimace while taking an anatomy and physiology class in this file photo. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

The future of Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr appeared to be in doubt as the eight-member Board of Education prepared for a Wednesday executive session to discuss renewal of his contract, two county officials with direct knowledge of board deliberations said Tuesday evening.

The two officials said that four board members are opposed to renewing the contract of Starr, 45, the former Stamford, Conn., schools superintendent who has led the 154,000-student system since July 2011. Starr needs at least a five-member majority to keep his job.

Starr’s spokesman, Dana Tofig, said Starr was not available for comment Tuesday evening. Board President Patricia O’Neill also declined to discuss Starr’s status.

“As is our statutory responsibility, the Board is discussing the renewal of the Superintendent’s contract. Because this is a personnel matter, these deliberations are confidential,” she said in a written statement.

Under the terms of his contract, Starr has until Feb. 1 to express his interest in continuing as superintendent. The board has until March 1 to respond.

No vote has been taken, and the situation could change. But the two county officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were describing private conversations, said Tuesday that the four members had lost confidence in Starr on a number of counts, including his ability to develop and communicate a successful strategy for closing the achievement gap separating white and minority students.

Board members also expressed disappointment with Starr’s leadership style, according to the two officials. They said he had failed to forge strong relationships with some board members, who were sometimes put off by what they described as a brusque or distant manner.

The two officials said board members opposed to Starr’s retention also saw him as somewhat distracted by career ambitions as well as his outspoken opposition to what he sees as the Obama administration’s overemphasis on standardized tests to drive reform in K-12 public education.

In late 2013, The Washington Post reported that Education Secretary Arne Duncan advised New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) against selecting Starr as the city’s new schools chancellor. Starr was also under consideration for the deputy chancellor’s job.

School board members contacted Tuesday night either did not return calls or messages or had no comment about Starr’s contract renewal.

Earlier Tuesday, many on the eight-member board had declined to discuss the superintendent’s contract, saying they preferred to wait until after Wednesday’s executive session or until the matter was settled.

“I think it’s safe to say there are some differing opinions on this at this point, and I think we just have to see how it plays out,” said Board Vice President Michael A. Durso, who declined to say whether he was for or against renewing Starr’s contract.