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Tuckahoe's school superintendent to stay on

Chris Dyer, superintendent of Tuckahoe Common School, is

Chris Dyer, superintendent of Tuckahoe Common School, is shown on Sept. 19, 2013. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Tuckahoe school Superintendent Chris Dyer has canceled plans to leave the district as it charts a path forward after a failed merger attempt with Southampton.

Dyer, who has been superintendent for four years, said in October that he would leave Tuckahoe this month to lead the Susquehanna Valley School District in upstate Conklin.

But he said Tuesday that he changed his mind after Southampton voters narrowly rejected a merger with Tuckahoe on Nov. 18, leaving his tiny district with an uncertain future.

"The merger wasn't satisfying, and I didn't feel settled," Dyer, 68, said in an interview Tuesday. "I'd like to have that settled feeling, that all is well."

Dyer, a former U.S. Army officer and Pentagon official, has lobbied for Southampton to annex Tuckahoe for the past three years, even though the merger would dissolve his and other administrators' positions.

Tuckahoe, which educates 350 students in grades K-8, has struggled with shrinking tax revenue and rising costs, and could be financially insolvent in the next few years if another school system doesn't take over, officials there have said.

Tuckahoe school board chairman Robert Grisnik on Tuesday praised Dyer's decision to stay and said the district's future remains "up in the air."

Grisnik and Dyer said they want to continue pursuing a merger with Southampton, which already educates about 150 of Tuckahoe's high school students. Southampton voters have rejected two proposals to take over Tuckahoe in the past 13 months.

Westhampton Beach school officials met with Tuckahoe officials Monday and discussed a potential merger, Dyer and Grisnik said. But since the two districts are not contiguous, state law would have to change for them to merge.

Tuckahoe officials have also considered forming a regional high school to serve several small districts on the East End.

Grisnik said Tuckahoe administrators have drafted a budget for 2015-2016, but "there's a lot of work still to be done with the direction we have to go" beyond that. He said he has reached out to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Long Island's state legislators to discuss the district's future.

Dyer said he informed Susquehanna Valley of his decision on Sunday.

Dyer's contract with Tuckahoe expires in July. He said he and the school board have discussed extending it by a year and a half and raising his salary to roughly $190,000 from $158,000, but the talks are preliminary.

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