Laurel School District's superintendent announced he will leave at the end of the school year and the board will begin its search for a replacement this month.
Josh Middleton, who has been superintendent of Laurel schools since 2003, said he will be stepping down in June. Trustees met Tuesday to plan a search for his replacement.
The board met Tuesday with the Montana School Boards Association for assistance with the search, board President Ken Kallem said in an e-mail.
He said the board would have more details in the next couple of days.
Middleton was in leadership meetings all day Tuesday and did not return phone calls made to his office.
Middleton will be leaving Laurel at a critical time. The district is operating with a $1.5 million hole in its budget after CHS, Inc., which owns the oil refinery in town, began protesting its taxes with the state last year.
Roughly 50 percent of the town tax base comes from CHS. As the company continues to protest its property tax, the Laurel School District will continue to struggle to balance its budget. County tax officials believe it will be another four years before the courts resolve the protest.
Before starting in Laurel, Middleton had been superintendent in Valier for four years. The Laurel superintendent position opened when Al McMilin resigned in 2002 to take a job with the Office of Public Instruction.
During his tenure, Middleton oversaw construction of a new middle school, a high school remodeling project and a new sports complex completed last fall.
When Billings School District 2 Superintendent Jack Copps announced his retirement last year, Middleton was one of two dozen candidates to formerly express interest in the job.
He pulled himself out of the running early when he learned the interview process overlapped with family commitments he had out of town. Still, SD2 named Middleton as an alternate candidate to the six applicants it brought to town for interviews in February.