Haines Borough School District Superintendent Michael Byer will be leaving at the end of the school year.

Byer, who started with the district in 2007, informed school board members this week he wouldn’t be seeking a renewal of his contract.

“I’ve been having physical issues I want to take more time to address,” Byer said in an interview after Tuesday’s school board meeting. “I have a sciatica problem going on right now. It’s been a hard decision. I’ll be 65 next year. I’d like to continue to work in different capacities be it consulting or some other position.”

“As you get older, time gets to be a more precious commodity, and I want to do things while I’m still healthy,” Byer said.

Byer, who owns a home in Washington state, said he expects to stay in Alaska, as he has children and grandchildren in Ketchikan.

He said it’s “up in the air” whether he’ll stay in Haines. His wife Michelle Byer, a Haines principal, would like to continue working as a principal, he said. Whether she’ll stay in that capacity here may depend on upcoming budget discussions, Byer said.

school board president Anne Marie Palmieri said Byer’s decision wasn’t a surprise. “We knew he was thinking about his future plans and he told us last fall he’d let us know in January.”

The district has some big issues in the air – including the future of Mosquito Lake School, enrollment loss to homeschooling, and budget constraints, Palmieri said. “But as for overall timing, I think it’s fine. We’re okay, but we have to get moving on (replacing Byer).”

Byer’s achievements included gains in early literacy, stabilizing the budget, developing a strategic plan and district curriculum, and helping the district win statewide awards in recent years, Palmieri said. “Michael really brought some stability. He’s been an exceptional leader for the district. We’re certainly going to miss him.”

Board members held a “visioning session” last week, including objectives for the coming year.

“Board objectives will help us outline what kind of skills we’re looking for in the our next superintendent,” Palmieri said.

The board started digging into the district’s budget for next year at a workshop Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, the board was expected to finalize its objectives for the coming year. Those will be posted on the district’s website soon, Palmieri said.