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Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Central schools superintendent Michael Faulk, in an August 2016 photo.

Michael Faulk has announced his resignation as superintendent of the Central school system, a position he’s held for more than 10 years.

Faulk made the surprise announcement at Monday’s Central School Board meeting, but he said he called all seven board members late last week to let him know his plans. He said he will leave effective Dec. 31.

Faulk said he’s accepted a new position as executive director of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents. It’s an organization Faulk has been a member of for 23 years, having served as its president four of those years, and he said it’s the first time that organization has had a full-time executive director.

“It’s a challenge and an opportunity to help strengthen this organization and help take it to next level,” Faulk said.

Faulk became the first, and thus far only, Central superintendent in early 2007, coming from Morehouse Parish in north Louisiana. He took a school district in its infancy, just months after voters agreed to let Central break away from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.

During his tenure, Central quickly rose to become one of the top school districts in the state — it’s currently ranked second academically behind Zachary — and has steadily increased enrollment over that time. He has consistently earned strong evaluations from the board that hired him and continually rehired him.

Faulk presided over some of the suburban Baton Rouge community's headiest days, including the opening in 2013 of an $80 million new Central Intermediate and Middle School campus. He also led the school system of more than 4,500 students through its toughest days during the August floods. The floods affected the lives of almost every resident of Central, damaged most of the structures and flooded Tanglewood Elementary. Tanglewood reopened in January after extensive repairs and improvements.

Faulk said he is proud of how far Central has come and sees a bright future.

“This school system is where it’s at because of the people in this audience, and it will continue to be a good school system because we have good people,” he said.

Now, the Central School Board will have to figure out how to replace him. Faulk said he plans on taking no role in that effort, leaving it solely to the board.

Sharon Browning, chairwoman of the School Board's Human Resources Committee, said Central owes a lot of its success to Faulk's leadership.

"It's going to be hard to replace him," she said. "He's done such an outstanding job for our school system."

Browning said Faulk's departure is so fresh that the board has yet to really discuss how best to replace him but said those discussions will start soon. She professed no concern that it might prove difficult to find a new superintendent willing to start mid-year.

"We've been a very successful school system so I don't think it will be hard to find applicants, it's just finding the right person for us," she said.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier