Irmo, SC (WLTX) - Lexington-Richland Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner has announced that he will retire at the end of the current school year.

The district released a statement Monday night confirming Hefner's intent to leave, not long after Hefner told a meeting of the school board of his plans.

“Serving as superintendent of District Five is an honor of the highest order,” Hefner said in a statement. “I love public education, and I love this job. I have been blessed beyond measure. After 24 years as a superintendent, I believe that it is time for me to move on to the next season of my life.”

Hefner has led the district since the beginning of 2011.

Before going to Lexington-Richland Five, Hefner served 16 years at the superintendent for Richland School District Two.

The district lists among his credits the launching of several magnet programs in his career. Lexington-Richland Five has consistently been a top-ranked district under his leadership.

In 2009, Hefner received the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor in the state of South Carolina.

“Under his inspiring leadership, District Five has enhanced its legacy of academic excellence, while building new schools, establishing a national model for career-focused education, creating choice for students and parents, and improving the safety and security of our schools," said District Five School Board Chairman Robert Gantt said. "He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will last for many years to come.”