St. James Parish schools Superintendent Alonzo “Lonnie” Luce announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down when the school year ends May 31.

Luce said his contract ends Dec. 31 but he thought it would “better timing” for the parish School Board to begin a search for a new superintendent soon, instead of waiting until the middle of the next school year. Luce, who was named Louisiana Superintendent of the Year in 2013, is in his ninth year with the district that has approximately 4,000 students.

He said Wednesday that he and the mostly new School Board — four out of seven incumbents were voted out of office in fall 2014 — weren’t always in accord on the issues facing the district.

“There weren’t any defining moments or particular issues,” Luce said. “It just was a different fit.”

A native of Hammond, Luce came to the St. James Parish school district from Greenville, South Carolina, where he was deputy superintendent of Greenville County Schools.

“I have a heart of gratitude for the community that welcomed me and my family back to Louisiana in 2007,” Luce said in a statement.

Looking back on his nine years as St. James Parish schools superintendent, Luce said his accomplishments include improved student academic achievement, providing handheld computer devices to students from second grade to the 12th grade and a higher graduation rate than the state’s in dual-enrollment programs.

School Board President George Nassar said Wednesday that there is “no animosity on either side,” between the superintendent and the board. Nassar said the board probably would begin advertising for its next superintendent in April and hopes to have the position filled by July 1.

The St. James Parish school district is the second in the region in recent weeks to begin a search for a new superintendent.

In Ascension Parish, the school district is in the beginning steps of finding a new superintendent. Former Superintendent Patrice Pujol retired at the end of February.