One of Montgomery County’s top school leaders will retire next year, after more than 35 years with the school system.

Larry A. Bowers, 65, chief operating officer for Montgomery County schools, is set to step down in June 2015. He will be replaced by Andrew Zuckerman, 37, who has been chief of staff to Superintendent Joshua P. Starr for the past year, officials said.

To help make the transition, Zuckerman will begin working with Bowers this summer and continue to do so for the next year.

In a memo to principals and central-office staff, Starr praised Bowers — chief operating officer for the past 15 years — citing his efforts with continuous improvement and describing his leadership as a “driving factor” in Montgomery’s winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2010.

“His leadership and full understanding of MCPS operations and the budget allowed MCPS to weather the recent economic downturn without significantly reducing services to students,” Starr wrote. “He has accomplished all of this while building and sustaining a strong, collaborative relationship with our employee associations ― a relationship that has allowed us to be thoughtful, innovative, and strategic in how we serve our students.”

Bowers began his work in Montgomery in 1978 as the staff assistant to the school board. He was chief financial officer before becoming chief operating officer.

Starr said Zuckerman was well-suited to step into the position, with a strong background in leadership and management. “He understands school budgeting that is focused on equity and excellence, and has experience in human capital strategy, two major functions of the Office of the Chief Operating Officer,” he wrote.

Zuckerman previously served as an associate superintendent for Prince George’s County Public Schools, where Starr said he led a region of 88 schools serving more than 46,000 students.

The announced changes come not long after the district’s deputy superintendent of school support and improvement, Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, was selected as superintendent of Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut. No replacement has yet been named.