Mundelein High School Superintendent Jody Ware will retire after the 2013-14 school year, she confirmed.
Ware has been the school's top administrator since 2008. Her decision gives the board more than a year to hire a replacement.
Ware, 56, of Mundelein, has made no formal announcement about ending her career.
But in March the school board hired a search firm to find her successor, leading to questions about how long she planned to stay on the job.
In an email to the Daily Herald, Ware confirmed she plans to step down in 2014.
The search firm, School Exec Connect, will begin its hunt in August or September, Ware said. It will be paid $14,500 for the effort.
The panel hired the firm now, board President Karen Havlik said, to plan ahead and to ensure "a nice, smooth transition."
School Exec Connect representatives Linda Hanson and Jill Hawk spoke about the process at Tuesday's school board meeting.
The firm will find out what the board members are seeking in a superintendent, talk to staffers about their hopes and challenges, advertise the post and interview candidates, Hanson said.
The search will be nationwide, she said.
"Sometimes the ideal candidate is in Minneapolis or in the St. Louis area," said Hanson, herself a former Mundelein High superintendent.
The goal is for the board to select a candidate by December, according to a proposed timeline.
Ware, who will earn $222,125 this year, came to Mundelein High from Morrison Community Unit District 6 in northwest Illinois. She has overseen a period of continued financial stability and campus improvements at Mundelein.
Perhaps most significantly, Ware helped shepherd a $10 million improvement plan that was funded by voter approval without raising taxes.
Artificial turf was installed on the football field, the swimming pool was deepened for competitions, and bathroom upgrades were planned, among other changes.
"She is certainly leaving the district in excellent shape for the next superintendent," board member Vicky Kennedy said.