PAYNESVILLE — Paynesville Area Schools Superintendent Matt Bullard is leaving the district for a school district in northern California.

Bullard, 46, has been a superintendent in the area for more than a decade, serving 10 years at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa before moving to Paynesville about three years ago.

Bullard said in a phone interview Friday morning it’s a time of transition for him and his family. He plans to marry a woman from California, and they had talked about relocating at some point. His youngest child is graduating from high school this spring and heading to college.

The opportunity in Lakeport, California, just moved up the timeline of his move.

“I see a lot of similarities with both BBE and Paynesville,” he said. “I’m excited for the opportunity.”

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The Lakeport Unified School District is in a rural community on a freshwater lake in an agricultural area about two hours north of San Francisco, he said. Red grapes, nuts and fruits are grown in the area.

Bullard said Lakeport is a town of about 5,000, and the school district has about 1,400 students.

He’s looking forward to the move, though he’s gotten some skeptical looks from people who learn he’s moving to California, he said.

“The biggest learning curve will be Minnesota has a lot of its own intricacies when it comes to school rules and school finance; California is no different when it comes to that,” he said.

He said he’ll be closing on a house in Lakeport in June and his contract with the school district begins July 1.

“I’ve been very, very fortunate in Minnesota,” he said.

At both BBE and Paynesville, he’s worked with exceptional staff, students and school boards, he added. “There’s a little bit of me that will always be in Minnesota.”

The Paynesville School Board is conducting a search for a new superintendent. According to a timeline set out by a search firm, applications close June 11, and interviews are scheduled for June 16 and June 18. The board plans to make a selection by June 24.