As expected, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Neil Pedersen announced tonight that his 19th year at the helm will be his last. Pedersen, the longest serving head in the 101-year history of the district, will step down June 30, 2011.

CHCCS Neil Pedersen will close the book on his tenure in 2011.
  • Courtesy of CHCCS
  • CHCCS Neil Pedersen will close the book on his tenure in 2011.

Pedersen issued a statement two weeks ago, saying he would announce a decision at tonight’s CHCCS Board of Education meeting.

“Dr. Pedersen, are there any announcements?” Chairman Mike Kelley asked to start the meeting, inviting the elephant in the room to trumpet.

“Yes,” he said, smiling the cut the tension. “As you know, I’ve been giving serious consideration as to the best time for me to retire as superintendent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. As I complete my 18th year in this position, I’ve concluded that this will be the last year that I will seek to serve in this capacity.”

Pedersen stressed that he is making his intention known now so that the board can conduct a thorough search. His four-year contract expires on his retirement date, and he had not asked for an extension. He says he’ll remain “as focused as ever” on strengthening academics even as resources diminish.

The board will discuss the search process at its next meeting in August.

Kelley said he wanted to be the first to thank Pedersen for his years of service and his impact on schools and the community as a whole.

The two men shook hands, and, no beats skipped, moved on to examining testing scores, district priorities and the budget.