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Robert Putnam officially named interim assistant superintendent of Berkshire Hills Regional School District

“The intention for the appointment today is for it to be open-ended without a time limitation,” Vice Chair Richard Dohoney told the Berkshire Hills Regional School District Committee. “Although it will be interim, we'll wait and see how things progress.”

Great Barrington — The Berkshire Hills Regional School District Committee formally approved Robert Putnam as the disctrict’s interim assistant superintendent at its meeting on Thursday, June 6.

Committee Chair Stephen Bannon was not present at the meeting, which was led by Vice Chair Richard Dohoney in his absence.

Putnam was taught in the school district for 13 years. He served in various roles during his time, including serving as principal at Muddy Brook Elementary and Stockbridge Plain Elementary schools from 2003 to 2006. He also served as the school district’s director of teaching and learning from 2001 to 2003 and from 2006 to 2010, until he moved on to serve as the assistant superintendent for the Dalton School District from 2010 to 2014.

Putnam continued his career serving as the superintendent of the Central Berkshire School District from 2014 to 2015, before moving on to the superintendent’s role in the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District from 2016 to 2018. Putnam retired in 2018; however, he served briefly as the interim superintendent in 2020 for the Mount Greylock Regional School District.

According to Dohoney, Superintendent Peter Dillon is out on medical leave. “He is recovering from very serious surgery,” Dohoney said. “In order to make sure that the district is properly staffed, discussions were [that we] had to have an individual come in and assist with those administrative duties.”

Dohoney said that, while the position is appointed and accounted for by the school committee, Putnam would be working under Superintendent Dillon. “The intention for the appointment today is for it to be open-ended without a time limitation,” Dohoney said. “Although it will be interim, we’ll wait and see how things progress.”

Dohoney explained that Putnam would be working for the school district three days a week; however she did not disclose Putnam’s salary.

When asked by a committee member, Dohoney said that the amount of hours Putnam would work each week is “yet to be decided.” “He will have the full authority of any superintendent, which is great because he will be able to do anything that Peter can do from an authority standpoint,” Dohoney said. “As some of you realize, [Peter] has chipped in places when he is able to. Even once Peter is back, I envision him coming back [working] part time, then full time. But that may not necessarily mean the elimination of this [interim assistant superintendent position]. This position is interim, but maybe [both positions] can complement each other going forward.”

The committee unanimously approved Putnam’s appointment as the school district’s interim assistant superintendent.

In other business: The committee held two executive sessions, one before the start of the regular meeting and the second session after the regular meeting.

The first executive session was a committee discussion on teacher Arantzazú Zuzene Galdós-Shapiro’s ongoing lawsuit against the school district and other various parties over the “Gender Queer” book investigation.

The second executive session, as listed on the meeting’s agenda, was: “To discuss the physical medical condition of an employee.” The agenda did not, however identify said school district employee to be discussed.

During the regular meeting, the committee, along with members of the public and school district employees, discussed for over an hour a proposed new cell phone policy for the school district. The committee did not vote on the proposed policy. Come back next week for further reporting on the matter in The Berkshire Edge.

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