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Fourth-grade science teachers Eric Brown and Amy Anderson and some of their students demonstrate what they are learning from the Project Lead The Way STEM curriculum at Monday's School Committee meeting.

Adams-Cheshire Nixes Shared Superintendent Idea

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Adams-Cheshire Regional School District won't be pairing up with North Adams on a superintendent. 

The School Committee voted unanimously Monday to suspend talks with North Adams and agreed to focus on hiring its own superintendent. The vote clears the way for the school district to hire a replacement for retiring Superintendent Robert Putnam. 

"I don't think this is a bad idea, but I think we are just taking a huge leap of faith making that decision now," Chairman Paul Butler said. "The timing today is just not there."   

Since Putnam announced his retirement at the end of the school year, a search committee was formed and three finalists were interviewed by the full committee last week. The three candidates are Taconic High School Principal John Vosburgh; Maria Geryk, director of student services for the Central Berkshire Regional School District; and William Bazyk, superintendent of the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union in Vermont.

Ellen Retelle, director of teaching and learning at Connecticut's Capitol Region Education Council also made the final cut but has withdrawn her name.

This search process was done alongside discussions with North Adams school officials about sharing a superintendent; however, the Adams-Cheshire officials felt there were too many unknowns to make a decision so quickly.

Committee member Peter Tatro said he thought the district needed its own leader because of all the changes it is going through.

"I know I feel strongly that we need our own superintendent right now," he said. "We have a turnaround plan and we have a lot of work to do and I think we need a superintendent that can focus on just our district."

School Committee member Adam Emerson had similar concerns and said he was originally all for the idea but changed his mind after talking to stakeholders who had questions he couldn't answer.

He added that with the quality of the three superintendent candidates he felt confident in hiring one of them.

Committee members Regina Hill and Jennifer Gageant said they felt there were still opportunities to share with North Adams but not the top administrator at this point.

"I think we should start out smaller. Baby steps," Gageant said. "We may have something that they don't and they have things that we don't. But I think there is too much going on in the district at this point."

With the anticipated decrease in population in Berkshire County, Butler said sharing services and possibly merging with North Adams in the future is not out of the question.

The School Committee voted to create a committee to work with North Adams to investigate other shared services.

The committee will meet Tuesday night to discuss the three candidates and potentially vote to make an offer to one of them. 

In other business, the School Committee heard from Dr. Marty Bush who brought up concerns about the Hoosac Valley boys baseball and basketball coaches.

Bush read accounts from student-athletes and parents stating instances of the coaches using inappropriate language and being verbally abusive to the students.

"I don't know what to say ... but if this is not addressed soon I am not stopping," Bush said. "I am not putting up with this and it is unbelievable that you allow this stuff to happen."

He added that he has told the administration about his concerns and has called both the department of education and the district attorney.

Tatro said he has heard the same complaints and that he brought it up to Putnam. Putnam said he was under the impression the issues were resolved but noted that they appear to be continuing.

Committee member Stephen Vigna said the coaches have been reprimanded in the past and that they do not seem to take the administration concerns seriously.

He added that he thought the district has to do a better job when hiring coaches.

Tatro suggested that parents and students fill out evaluation forms at the end of the season.

Butler cut the discussion short because he did not want to get too far into a personnel issue outside of executive session but said the district will investigate the issue and, if need be, the School Committee will ask for a hearing with the individuals.

"Clearly if these things are even remotely true, those people should not be coaching for our school at all," Butler said. "We are here to build character, not tear it down ... the superintendent will be looking into this."

Although his name was not mentioned, Mike Larabee is the head coach of both the boys' basketball and baseball teams.

Before the meeting began, Hoosac Valley Elementary School fourth-grade science teachers Eric Brown and Amy Anderson brought some of their students to the meeting to demonstrate some of the new Project Lead The Way STEM (science, technology, engineering, math0 curriculum.

Tags: ACRSD,   finalists,   shared services,   superintendent,   

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Cheshire to Address Emergency Lighting, Signage in Public Buildings

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town will address broken emergency lighting and signage in public buildings. 
The Selectmen met again with the Finance Committee on Tuesday night to go over the draft budget and they discussed further building maintenance and some immediate concerns over safety.
Specifically the lack of working exit signs and emergency lighting in town buildings.
"We definitely need to address this," Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said. "We can't have employees working in this situation and we have to address it."
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