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Hammond to discuss merger with Morristown

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HAMMOND — The Board of Education president said Friday he is open to discussing a possible merger with Morristown Central School with fellow board members.

The Morristown Central School District board voted Wednesday against pursuing a tuitioning agreement with Heuvelton. Instead, the district has decided to send a letter of inquiry to Hammond Central School, asking it to discuss a possible merger.

Hammond board President Timothy W. Pitcher said Friday he has not yet seen the letter from the Morristown board, but he is open-minded about discussing a possible merger.

“We will discuss all possibilities,” Mr. Pitcher said. “It’s not like we haven’t talked about it before. It may come down the road. We have to be prepared.”

Mr. Pitcher said Hammond is in good fiscal condition, but that might change if the state continues to cut funding.

“We don’t have to do anything right at this moment,” Mr. Pitcher said. “Right now, our main focus is trying to square away our new interim superintendent.”

Morristown Vice President W. Darrell Merkel has said that a merger between the schools could end Hammond’s search for a permanent superintendent, since there would need to be only one superintendent for the newly formed district.

In case of a merger, Mr. Pitcher said, the districts would have to build a new school because they are too small to accommodate the 800 students in the combined districts.

Hammond Central School is about 10 miles from Morristown. Another merger option for Hammond is Alexandria Central School, which is 21 miles away.

“I don’t think it’s something we should ignore. Education is changing, and we have to be open to that,” Hammond school board member Bernard A. Martin said.

Mr. Martin declined to comment further until the board has discussed the issue.

The school board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Hammond Central School library.

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