School supe says family has to come first

JULIE LANE PHOTO Superintendent Michael Hynes' last day will be July 28.

JULIE LANE PHOTO
Superintendent Michael Hynes’ last day will be July 25.

Word spread rapidly across Shelter Island Sunday when it was reported that Superintendent Michael Hynes would be leaving the district in July.

His next stop is the superintendent’s post in the Patchogue-Medford School District.

Dr. Hynes final day here will be July 25, just three years after he came to the Island. He starts his new job on July 28.

“My decision to leave has to do with what is best for my family which I hope people can understand and respect,” Dr. Hynes told the Reporter. “Family is the most important thing in our lives and my family loves this community very much,” he said.

But a commute of well over an hour each way as opposed to a five-minute drive to his office in Patchogue heavily influenced the decision, according to a board member who declined to be named.

Although it’s not yet known how much Dr. Hynes will earn on his new job, the current superintendent in Patchogue-Medford, Michael Locantore, has been paid $224,175 with a $55,630 benefits package. Dr. Hynes’ salary here is $175,000 plus a $36,000 benefits package.

“I would like the Shelter Island community to know that I’ve had a wonderful three years serving your students,” Dr. Hynes said. “You have all made me feel like a family member and for that, I will always be grateful. I will miss the students and our staff more than they know.”

The Board of Education wants to find a permanent replacement as rapidly as possible, according to its president, Dr. Stephen Gessner. Bringing in an interim superintendent could “slow up” some of the ongoing efforts to keep the district on track with many of Dr. Hynes’ initiatives, he said.

The BOE accepted Dr. Hynes resignation with regret, Dr. Gessner said.

“We thank him for his hard work an inspirational leadership which in a short period of time has transformed our school,” he said. “We wish him well in the future.”

With only about seven weeks before Dr. Hynes’ departure, the BOE would hire an interim superintendent if necessary, he said.

There are good candidates who could be interested in the post on a temporary basis, he said.

As for a permanent replacement, the position needs to be advertised and at the moment, no one has identified any potential candidates for the job, he said.

The BOE will be assisted in its search by its attorneys from Hauppauge’s Ingerman and Smith, Dr. Gessner said.

“They are experienced helping districts on Long Island finding superintendents,” Dr. Gessner said. Board members also want input from various constituencies within the community.

During Dr. Hynes three years on Shelter Island, he has succeeded on holding the line on spending to comply with the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap while adding programs and staff. He has implemented a number of new programs, including creation of two secondary school “houses” — one dedicated to teaching the humanities and the other in math, science and technology. That initiative led to increased team teaching, affording faculty members the opportunity to concentrate on areas they are most skilled while coordinating the curriculum across several subjects.

He joined with Southold Superintendent David Gamberg and Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen in coordinating a forum of international educational experts at Stony Brook University to offer alternatives to improving American education in place of the controversial Common Core standards.

Mr. Gamberg called Dr. Hynes an “outstanding educator and person” and said he hopes the transition to Patchogue-Medford means an expansion of the efforts the three men have been making to enhance education on Long Island.

Dr. Hynes described working in public education as “all about relationships, trust and building each others capacities.”

Social studies teacher Brian Doelger spoke to the significance of that relationship. He and Dr. Gessner worked with Dr. Hynes on a presentation at a major academic conference and said the three will have a paper published in an academic journal based on that presentation.

“Dr. Hynes had a great influence on me both professionally and educationally,” Mr. Doelger said. “He challenged me in the classroom as a superior and encouraged me with my doctoral research as a peer. I truly hope we follow the path he has set forth for our school.”

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