CARY, N.C. -- Wake County Public School System Superintendent Jim Merrill is retiring.

He announced Tuesday night that he will leave on February 1, 2018.

In a letter, Dr. Merrill addressed the issue:

"I have chosen to resign from the Wake County Public Schools for the purpose of retirement effective February 1, 2018. As you may expect, I have a whirlwind of emotions about this decision. I have enjoyed, beyond measure, my twenty plus years serving the adults and children of Wake County. While we have made much progress and have many accomplishments to which we can point, there always is more work to be done. I am proud of the employees of the Wake County Public Schools who have always acknowledged the challenges and did not shy away from the tough conversations and opportunities. The success of our schools also is a tribute to the support provided by our parents and community members.

"I believe our schools are in a good place, notwithstanding some challenges like growth, funding, and legislative mandates. We have adaptive and creative leadership at the employee and board levels, and I am confident the Wake County Schools, with the continued support of our community, can meet the challenges."

The school board will begin the search for a new superintendent in the coming weeks.