Tammy Gabel, who served as superintendent of Windsor School district through one of the most tumultuous times in the district's history, announced her resignation effective Nov. 30.

Gabel, who took the helm of Sonoma County's fourth largest school district in July 2011 after a stint as superintendent of Black Oak Mine Unified School District in California's Gold Country, cited a need to care for her aging parents who live in Orange County as the reason for her departure.

"My family needs my attention, so I'm going to be taking care of them," she said. "Both of my parents are very ill right now."

An interim superintendent for the 5,500-student district is expected to be confirmed at the school board's Dec. 3 meeting. The Windsor School Board accepted Gabel's resignation at their meeting Tuesday.

A search for a permanent replacement will be launched soon, said School Board President Billy Forrest.

Gabel, 52, was superintendent through a period of deep budget cuts and a restructuring of the district's fiscal operations that required the installation of a financial minder hired by the Sonoma County Office of Education.

The district slashed jobs, increased class sizes and maintained a shortened school year as district officials grappled with a structural deficit that plunged the district into negative financial status last spring.

"Their budget was approved by the county but they are still considered a &‘lack of going concern' which is why I'm still there as a fiscal advisor," said Michelle Plumbtree, who has power to veto the board's spending decisions.

But Plumbtree credited district officials and staff for pressing forward with changes and cuts that have pulled the district closer to a positive financial rating.

"Their financial outlook is much better," she said.

"The financial situation is not one that happened just under (Gabel's) watch," she said. "A district doesn't get to where Windsor is in a very short time frame. It took years to get there and it takes years to get all of the way out of it."

Forrest said the district is moving forward.

"It's been a difficult time for all of us," he said. "While she is leaving, the school district is in a lot better shape than it was a year ago."

The district is set to return to a 180-day school year in 2014-15 and Gabel said negotiations are underway with teachers over class size and other issues.

Gabel called her departure "bittersweet."

"We went through some very difficult times," Gabel said. "Windsor is poised to do some amazing things going forward. It's going to be fun for me to watch."

Gabel, whose last official day is Nov. 30, is using personal days for the remainder of her tenure.

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@press democrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.