Ellen Mauer was hired as superintendent in Millburn Elementary District 24 two years ago at the same meeting where the school board cut 30 jobs.
Although she wouldn't take over until July 1, 2009, Mauer, a longtime educator, said at the time she was optimistic about the district's future despite the challenges.
The financial woes have not subsided and in the wake of a failed tax hike question, District 24 is expected later this month to eliminate 25 teaching positions. The move will save $1.1 million for the 2011-12 school year.
Mauer, too will be contemplating the future, after a divided school board on Monday accepted her resignation. Details are scarce, but it appears Mauer was forced out and her contract would not have been extended.
"We've had discussions in closed session for the last four months," said school board President Robert Buehler, who was in the minority on the 4-3 vote. "She did nothing wrong. We're just moving in a different direction."
Mauer, who makes a base salary of $140,000, will stay on until June 30. A former principal in Wilmette District 39 and Diamond Lake District 76, she replaced James Menzer, who retired after 14 years.
"I have no idea why they decided to go a different way but I have to accept their decision to do it," she said Thursday. "I got a great evaluation and met all of my goals."
Questions regarding the action were referred to Buehler, who declined to discuss details.
"It's a very passionate issue right now," he said. "It's a divided board but this is democracy."
He said a replacement is being sought from within the district.
Voters in November, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, rejected a district effort to raise taxes by an amount that would have increased property taxes on a $300,000 home by $732.
Without the influx of funds, the district is proceeding with the staff cuts that include 20 current teaching positions, representing nearly 16 percent of the 127-member teaching staff.
Millburn has 1,677 students in two, K through 8 schools serving Lindenhurst, Wadsworth and areas of Lake Villa.
"Class sizes will go up," Mauer said. "We're borrowing to make payroll. We can't dip into our reserves because there aren't any."
In a statement, Mauer said she and the board have decided this is an "appropriate time to consider different leadership alternatives."
She added she has enjoyed her time in the district, and the two years have passed quickly.
"Examining and accurately communicating the financial condition of the district has been tough but necessary work and the future of the district will be determined by the will of the board and the D24 community as they face more difficult decisions in the future," she said.