CHESHIRE, Mass. – The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District will be looking for another superintendent, the third one in just over five years.
Superintendent Robert Putnam presented the School Committee with a letter Monday announcing that he has chosen to end his 30-year career in public education from Adams-Cheshire.
"I did not enter public education until I was 34 years old, but once I started teaching I recognized that the care and education of our youth can be among the most rewarding and noble pursuits in one's professional life," Putnam wrote. "While I am sad to leave the district, I believe it is time for me to embark on a new phase of my life. I am grateful to have spent the final two years of my career in the ACRSD working with all of you toward the success of all of our students."
Putnam was hired in July 2016 as the interim superintendent after the previous superintendent, Kristen Gordan, resigned. She had replaced the retired Al Skrocki.
Putnam pointed out that the position had been advertised as a one-year contract that would give the School Committee time to do a more thorough search. But he was offered the permanent position
this past February.
Before coming to Adams-Cheshire, Putnam spent 23 years in Berkshire Hills Regional School District and five years in Central Berkshire Regional School District, including as superintendent.
Putnam wrote that although he intended to retire at the end of the 2016 school year when the contract ended, he was offered the full-time position and heeded the call.
"I took the job thinking that I could provide competent service to the district and retire at the end of that year; however, the combination of budget issues, the necessity of raising student academic performance, and the loss of families and students called for a major reconfiguration of our facilities and a reorganization of the academic programming," Putnam wrote. "The FY18 budget initiatives required a greater investment of my time and energy to ensure proper implementation."
He initiated many changes in the district during his short tenure, including the controversial closure of Cheshire Elementary School and the difficult task of reconfiguring the district from three school buildings to two.
Putnam noted in his letter that this reorganization allowed the district to implement more inclusive special education programming and allowed the added Intervention teachers to work across
He also doubled down on increasing the district's state leveling by working with the University of Massachusetts' Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management, which was commissioned to study the state of the school district and supply recommendations for its future. This lead to the utilization of a turnaround plan that spelled out the district's charge to attract more students and increase standardized test scores.
Part of this plan was to implement a distributed leadership model throughout the district and introduce Instructional Leadership Teams and launching college career pathways in hopes of attracting more students to the district.
Putnam said much of this work his administration set in motion will truly come to fruition three to five years from now and he hopes by letting the School Committee know of his intention to leave the district at the end of the year now, it will have time to find the right leader to continue the district's current trajectory.
"I am proud that, thanks to you, we got all of these initiatives off the ground, but it is going to take 3-5 years of focused effort to ensure that they take root and stand on their own," he wrote. "I am making my retirement announcement now so that the district has sufficient time to identify a new leader who can dedicate 3-5 years to consolidating the initiatives we have set in motion, who can carefully monitor the aspirations of the community to ensure the continued improvement in student outcomes, and provide educational programming that meets the needs of the community."
He closed by writing his role came with some difficult decisions, but he always tried to do right by the communities and the school district.
"During my time with the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District I have tried to do my best for the district, its families, children, and staff," he wrote. "I have worked to implement changes that recognized the fiscal constraints and reallocated funds from facilities to personnel. Difficult choices had to be made but that is one of the responsibilities of leadership."
Putnam wrote there are still six months left in his tenure and he plans to continue to work hard to steer the initiates he set in motion.