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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KSDK) – The Superintendent of District 7 will retire following a 40-year career in education.

Ed Hightower will leave Edwardsville Schools at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, according to a statement released Tuesday morning.

Hightower said he feels comfortable in leaving the district without compromising goals or projects and that he's excited to spend more time with family and other projects.

Hightower has served as the district's superintendent for the past three years.

Read his full statement below:

After 18 years in District 7 and 40 years in the field of education, I announced my retirement as District 7 Superintendent effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
Three years ago, the Board asked me to stay to lead the District through the economic crisis that has plagued our nation and our state and local economy since the financial collapse.
Through the efforts and the leadership of the Board and the hard work of the administrative staff, tough decisions were made in order to continue providing the outstanding educational opportunities our community expects and, at the same time, to continue maintaining reasonable class sizes. I am pleased to say that the District has been able to weather these difficult times without experiencing major layoffs or the complete elimination of programs.
The 2014-15 school year will continue to be a challenging year as no one is sure of the impact state funding will have on Illinois schools. Challenges the District will face next year include revisiting District boundaries and their impact on transportation, continuing to address funding concerns, the ten-year life safety review, and the implementation of the Technology in the 21st Century Classroom Initiative.
That being said, the financial condition of the District is improving, so my decision to retire comes prior to the end of my contract, which runs until 2015-2016. I feel comfortable that I can step down now without compromising the District's goals or current projects. The Board will have time to find my replacement and begin the transition in order to maintain a sense of continuity with the District's goals and ensure that projects underway are completed as scheduled.
I certainly look forward to spending more time with my family, as well as pursuing other interests. However, it would be remiss of me not to thank the District 7 community for its continued support, particularly through the tough financial times.
I look forward to leading the District as Superintendent during the 2014-2015 school year and continuing to make District 7 the district of choice for families, businesses, and citizens who are seeking the best location in which to reside.
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