by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Kerin Dumphrey has fond memories of Niagara-Wheatfield.
After the conclusion of this school year, that's all they'll be. He's submitted his request to retire from the district, a move which will end his more-than-20-year career.
"Niagara-Wheatfield has been very good to me through the years," he said. "It's been a good ride."
Dumphrey's announcement is the second among area school business leaders in 2013 alone. Lew-Port's Assistant Superintendent Don Rappold submitted his plans to step away in January, leaving Timothy Hyland, administrator for school business services at the Niagara Falls City School District, as the only local remaining financial leader in western Niagara County.
Hyland said he's planning on retiring following the next school year, a move which could leave the area with a lack of financial leadership in the education sector.
Dumphrey wouldn't elaborate on why he's retiring, deferring all answers until after his letter is formally approved by the board, expected to happen at the March 6 meeting.
The 62-year-old Dumphrey has been at the helm of some of the district's best financial years, as well as its worst. But his legacy at Niagara-Wheatfield will forever be tied to his brief stint as interim superintendent last year. Following former leader Carl Militello's sudden retirment in February 2011 amid a massive financial meltdown, Dumphrey assumed control and was able to navigate the district toward future stability.
Success didn't come without scars, though. He was forced to cut more than 60 teaching jobs and several administrators – including the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction – from the payroll in a year which featured a failed budget proposal due to the district's intent on surpassing the state's tax levy cap.
After returning to his business management position in July, with the hiring of Interim Superintendent James Knowles to assume district leadership, Dumphrey has overseen a possible return to fiscal responsibility. He said the district could realize more than $1 million in savings this year under perfect conditions, which would reduce the impact of taxes on the district's residents heading into 2013-14.
It's his experience working through problems which Board President Steve Sabo said will be missed most from Dumphrey's absence.
"(Dumphrey) has produced for many, many years at Niagara-Wheatfield," he said. "They're all very doable budgets which help keep the tax rate down. He's made a commitment to making sure Wheatfield is in the know when it comes to taxes and funding.
"He was able to produce a tremendous fund balance for us before the previous (Militello) administration took over. Anyone with that experience and knowledge is going to be missed. He's definitely bled Niagara-Wheatfield for numerous years. We will certainly miss the knowledge and commitment he's brought to us."
The district school board will next meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, in the adult learning center of its high school, 2292 Saunders Settlement Road, Lewiston.