The superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, Jack Dale, announced his retirement Thursday night.

The school chief will step down when his contract ends in 2013, the school system announced.

The news comes in the midst of a heated school board race, in which half of the current members have decided not to run for reelection.

Dale said he looks forward to spending more time with his grandchildren, reading and golfing. He has been superintendent in Fairfax since 2004, overseeing a budget crisis and a storm of controversy over the system's strict discipline process.