Mike Gilbert, who’s served as superintendent at White Oak ISD since 2006, is saying goodbye to the district.

“It’s been both an honor and a privilege to work with White Oak ISD for the past 13 years,” Gilbert wrote in a letter to trustees late last month announcing his retirement. “This is a special place full of outstanding educators, top-notch students and great leadership, both employed and elected by the district.”

His retirement will be effective Dec. 20, the final day of the fall semester.

The board of trustees unanimously approved requesting proposals from superintendent search firms at its Monday meeting to help find his replacement. Gilbert will not be involved in the search process.

Gilbert said Monday he believes the district is in a good place for him to retire. 2017 bond projects are almost complete, and the district is financially stable, he said.

He was hired in November 2006 as superintendent for the district. Prior to that, he had been principal at Spring Hill High School in Longview.

“It just seems like a good time to see what’s next,” Gilbert said Monday. “I hope to still be doing something that keeps me connected with Texas public schools and education issues because that is my passion and will remain so.”

He has worked in education for 39 years.

From 2002 to 2004, he was principal at White Oak High School. He also has been a teacher and coach at high schools in Texarkana, Lindale and Wills Point.

“I am and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the White Oak ISD family,” Gilbert wrote in his Aug. 26 letter to trustees. “I am very proud to call myself a White Oak Roughneck and will continue to support/advocate in the best interest of this district going forward.”

When he arrived at White Oak 13 years ago it was in a good place, he said.

“I guess one of the things I can get credit for is not messing it up,” Gilbert said. “When you look at the leadership team that we’ve put together, when you look at just the overall performance of the district in all areas, I really feel like White Oak is an outstanding school district and we have a lot of good things to offer kids and are giving our best effort in any and all avenues that we pursue.”