State schools Superintendent Dr. David Stewart is stepping down.

The announcement of his resignation was not expected.

Stewart said it's time for new leadership for West Virginia's public education system.

Last week Stewart was critical of Challenge WV's study which showed school consolidation in the Mountain State did little to improve children's education, in addition to costing more money.

His announcement came during a closed-door executive session meeting with the state School Board in Charleston.

Stewart was appointed superintendent in March 2000 to replace Hank Marockie, who resigned following an investigation into his expenses.

During Stewart's tenure he has faced several troublesome issues, including the imprisonment of former school board president J. D. Morris of Clay County and alleged misuse of flood money in southern West Virginia. Asst. Superintendent G. A. McClung resigned after those allegations surfaced.

Stewart says he has enjoyed the job and lists the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act among his achievements in office.

His resignation is effective June 30th.

School board members are expressing shock, saying Stewart had made no indication that he would be leaving.

Board member Barbara Fish of Parkersburg says Stewart's shoes will be hard to fill.