The woman in charge of finances for the Alameda Unified School District is stepping down, just weeks after voters passed a tax to help pump money into the city's cash-strapped schools.

Luz Cazares, who served as chief financial officer for nearly three years, is leaving to take a job with the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Her resignation will take effect Aug. 22.

"Luz was a great asset," said Tracy Lynn Jensen, a member of the Board of Education. "She was very thorough. She always presented information that was easy to understand. I think this is really a great loss."

Cazares is credited with helping district leaders steer through a string of budget problems in the wake of the U.S. Navy base closing, which led to a drop in students and subsequent loss in revenue.

The enrollment woes led officials to close George P. Miller and Longfellow elementary schools in 2006.

More recently, the state budget deficit led Cazares to project that the district was facing a $4.5 million deficit, which prompted the effort to pass the annual $120 parcel tax earlier this month.

Cazares was not available for comment Thursday.

Superintendent Ardella Dailey called her "extremely knowledgeable" and described her as someone who "truly cares about our goals of excellence and equity for all students" in a written statement.

Cazares has pledged to help district officials find her replacement.

"She knows our district, she knows our team and she knows the demands of the job, so this will be a great advantage in finding a qualified replacement who can meet the high standards of this important position in our district," Dailey said.

Cazares came to the Alameda district in March 2004 as the director of fiscal services. She became chief financial officer in September 2005.

In Pleasanton, she will serve as assistant superintendent of business services.

Reach Peter Hegarty at phegarty@bayareanewsgroup.com or 510-748-1654.