(Memphis) The Shelby County School Board has approved a buyout of Superintendent John Aitken, after an emotional outpouring of support for the resigning superintendent.
The board met in executive session during Tuesday's meeting and returned to announce the buyout.
Supt. Aitken will resign immediately, but remain as an adviser through the end of May.
He will be paid a lump sum of $323,700.
His original contract would have ended in February 2015.
"It's time to step back and reevaluate some things for me personally, and appreciate the board giving me that opportunity," Aitken said.
He said that it was not a decision related to the board's current search for a superintendent, or his chances at keeping the job.
He simply thanked his many supporters, especially his family standing in the doorway, watching him step down from his role.
Several commissioners took turns giving heartfelt tributes to Aitken, often times wiping away tears.
Commissioner Gibson read a note from her children, saying, "You made each of us think that we were your favorite. You encouraged us to work hard, love life, and never stop learning."
Commissioner Betty Mallot said, "He has exemplified from day one, the spirit of cooperation and collaboration."
Commissioner David Pickler, who once served as chairman of Shelby County Schools called it, "the saddest day."
Dorsey Hopson, the interim superintendent for Memphis City Schools, is now the only superintendent as the districts merge.
Earlier Tuesday evening, the superintendent search committee met, approving a timeline to select a superintendent for the merged district by June 2013.