The Nassau BOCES board of education Thursday formally named Robert R. Dillon, a veteran educator with wide experience as a school administrator and advocate for needy districts, as the new superintendent.

At its monthly meeting in Garden City, eight of the nine-member board voted to appoint Dillon to lead the agency, which has a $300 million budget, 2,500 full-time employees and 20 schools and office sites across the county.

"It's an honor to be chosen," said Dillon, 64, of Walden. "This is the premier BOCES in New York State."

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One of the challenges facing the 56 school districts that are members of Nassau BOCES is inadequate funding, Dillon said.

"You need the money, but you also need to spend the money properly. You need accountability. You need transparency. All these things you need," Dillon said. "It's not just putting money into a black hole."

The permanent superintendent's job has been vacant since July 2014, when Thomas Rogers took a new job as the Syosset district's superintendent.

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"Dr. Dillon brings a wealth of leadership experience and an understanding of current educational issues," said Eric B. Schultz of Plainview, president of the Nassau BOCES board. "In addition, as a former Nassau County superintendent, he understands how Nassau BOCES works hand in hand with our districts."

The first order of business, Dillon said, is to meet with the local superintendents and hear what their needs and concerns are.

"I have some ideas about programs that may be helpful in the area of career in tech," he said.

With the state tax cap, school districts are under increasing pressure to keep costs down, Schultz said. One of the issues Dillon will face is creating programs that districts want.

"We need to determine how the shrinking dollars are going to affect our districts; what services we can provide; what services may or may not be in demand based upon the shrinking dollars; and adjust ourselves accordingly," Schultz said.

As chief of the Nassau County's Board of Cooperative Educational Services system -- the biggest of 37 such districts in New York State -- Dillon will deal with thorny educational issues out of Albany as well as local controversies revolving around tight school budgets.

BOCES superintendents act as regional troubleshooters for the state Education Department in addition to being top administrators of their agencies.

Nassau BOCES is a cooperative of the 56 county school districts. Like other BOCES, it provides services to local districts that include occupational- and special-education courses, as well as technical support.

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Dillon has written extensively on the improvement of education, and his work has been published in The American School Board Journal, Long Island Education Review, the Journal of School Leadership and Education News.

In addition, he has presented for several major educational organizations, including the International Conference on Educational Research, the National School Boards Association and the New York State School Boards Association.

With John Hildebrand