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Hammond says ‘no’ to merger

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HAMMOND – Board of Education members said Tuesday that the Hammond Central School District will not pursue a merger with Morristown.

Hammond and Morristown school board members will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Hammond cafeteria to discuss shared services and superintendents, but officials are not going to spend a lot of time talking over the idea of an outright merger.

“We’re not going in that direction,” board President Timothy W. Pitcher said. “But what we are doing is talking about shared services and maybe talking down the road about superintendent shared services. For that, we want to talk to another superintendent.”

Mr. Pitcher cited increased costs coupled with decreases in student population as incentives for the joint work session.

“It’s just talk. Nothing is going to happen, and it takes two public votes to complete a merger anyway,” Mr. Pitcher said. “We have to talk, and we have to listen to what is going on and where we’re at.”

The Hammond school board is looking for a full-time superintendent. The board will hold a work session Wednesday to discuss the superintendent’s roles and responsibilities. Randy C. Richards is serving as interim superintendent

“We’re not seriously looking at a merger at this time, but this is a great opportunity to go back, check in with the Morristown board and look for new efficiencies for shared services or a shared superintendent or anything else that we can do,” Mr. Richards said.

Mr. Richards said the district already shares transportation services with Morristown. It also holds distance learning classes through the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

“BOCES is your biggest shared services component right now,” Mr. Richards told Hammond board members. “You already share, and I think you’ll be surprised, we share across the fence with Morristown already. We have to look at pre-existing shared services. If we’re not going to share with Morristown, then we have to look at other districts. I am looking forward to that discussion.”

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