SAN LEANDRO -- The superintendent of schools will retire later this year after 17 years with the district and three years at the helm.

Cindy Cathey, 62, announced this week she would leave the district at the end of the school year on June 30, in the middle of a two-year contract.

"Over the past 17 years, I have fostered so many strong personal and professional relationships and I cherish every one of them. We have accomplished so many things together," Cathey said in a statement. "We have put into place programs that will continue to improve the education of our students. I look forward to finishing my tenure as superintendent under an improving budget outlook. I want to thank you for the privilege of serving as your Superintendent and working alongside you to support the students, staff and families of our school district."

Cathey began her San Leandro Unified career as an elementary school teacher, later serving as vice principal and principal at Wilson Elementary, district director of curriculum and instruction, then assistant superintendent of educational services, beginning in 2005, before she was hired as district superintendent three years ago, district officials said. She earned her master's degree from Saint Mary's College and her bachelor's from San Jose State.

Diana Prola, San Leandro school board president, praised Cathey's work in a statement, crediting her with driving the efforts to pass the $50 million Measure M bond measure in 2010 and the $12 million Measure L parcel tax in November to improve school facilities.

Cathey also provided oversight to projects funded by previous bonds, including construction of the district's $20.8 million Arts Education Center on San Leandro High's campus, opened in 2011, and the partially grant-funded renovations to the Career Technical Education center, Prola said.

Most recently, Cathey helped negotiate a deal to obtain a $1.25 million loan from the city so the district could buy property for a new student health clinic. Construction is also under way on the renovation of the 50-year-old Burrell Field and the high school's swimming pool and track and field complex with Measure M funds.

"The board regrets that Superintendent Cathey will be leaving us, but understands that she has family obligations," Prola said. "She has created a legacy of educational upgrade, and she will be greatly missed."

The school board is scheduled to discuss the creation of an ad hoc superintendent replacement search committee at its next meeting.

Cathey's base salary this year is $225,350, according to her two-year contract signed Aug. 31. The contract can be terminated by mutual consent.

Ashly McGlone covers San Leandro, San Lorenzo and the Washington Township Health Care District. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/AshlyReports.