COLUMBIA — Phyllis Chase will retire effective Aug. 31 as superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, which she has led since 2003.
The Columbia School Board was notified on Monday of a news conference Tuesday and learned of Chase's retirement at a noon meeting Tuesday, said board member Jan Mees. The board's closed session was held just prior to a 1 p.m. news conference in the district's administration building on West Worley Street.
Board members will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the possibility of hiring an interim superintendent who would serve from Sept. 1 to the end of the 2008-09 school year, board member Ines Segert said.
Segert said the search for a permanent successor will begin in January. That is when past searches for the top job have typically begun.
"We will act as soon as possible," board President Michelle Gadbois said. "We will forge ahead and do this with some extra time. ... This is the right time for her to be moving on."
Before becoming superintendent in Columbia, Chase held teaching, counseling and administration positions at school districts in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.
Chase has been presented with many acknowledgments of her contributions to the community, including the DeVerne Lee Calloway Award from the Missouri House of Representatives and the Excellence in Educational Leadership Award from the University Council of Educational Administration at MU.
Soon, the school board will select a process for getting a new superintendent.
At the news conference, Chase, 58, said she chose to retire now because she was able to do so.
She said she has been considering this move for three months.
"I am sad to leave," Chase said, reading from a memo she sent out to public school staff and others. "For me, this is, and will always be, a great loss."
Missourian reporters Elise Catchings, Evan Hamilton, Deidra Holder and Kristin Lewis contributed to this article.