CHESHIRE — The Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee has appointed the former head of a neighboring district to serve as its interim superintendent.
Robert Putnam, who served as superintendent as Central Berkshire Regional School District until his resignation in 2015, was the last candidate standing when committee members voted.
Putnam will replace outgoing Superintendent Kristen Gordon, who abruptly announced her resignation earlier this year. She was selected in March as new principal of Conway Grammar School in Franklin County.
The interim appointment will become effective on July 1, pending successful contract negotiations.
A subcommittee of the School Committee had reviewed applicants for the post and narrowed them down to a pool of three final candidates.
All three interviews were scheduled to occur on Monday evening, but one finalist dropped out that morning. The interview of Christine Canning, one of two remaining candidates, was contentious enough that she stood up and left, withdrawing her name from contention.
Putnam was the last man standing and approved unanimously by the committee.
"I don't know that the outcome would have been any different whether Ms. Canning had chosen to keep her hat in the ring or not," said committee member Darlene Rodowicz."
Committee member Peter Tatro asked if it would be beneficial, now that only one candidate remained, to dig back into the applicant pool. After hearing from the other committee members, however, Tatro was satisfied with Putnam and voted to approve his appointment.
Chairman Paul Butler noted that in order to do that, the subcommittee would have to start the search from scratch and post the position once more. He noted that the committee is pushing up against a deadline.
"We also run the risk of losing the candidate we already have," Butler said.
As a member of the screening committee, member Regina Hill said there were no other strong candidates that she would consider.
"I think that Dr. Putnam is an excellent choice, I think he comes to the district with a proven record," Hill said. "He has formerly been both an assistant and superintendent so he knows the overall workings of a superintendent's office."
Prior to serving as its superintendent, Putnam served as the assistant superintendent at Central Berkshire for four years. He resigned from his post after just more than a year and half, citing the time commitment required to do the job and obligations to his family. He currently works as a music teacher in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District.
His resignation at the time shook the School Committee, which had rated him in 2015 as "proficient" and noted in a report that he was "consummate professional," "candid, transparent, positive" and "visible, approachable, respectful."
Butler noted that Putnam's references from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees were "extremely strong."
In an unexpected departure from normal procedure, Butler addressed accusations made online that the committee is under investigation by the state Attorney General Office.
"No such investigation is underway," Butler said. "The comment was put out there as simply rumor with no basis in fact, to what ends I can only speculate."
Butler said the accusations put doubt into the community when it should be focusing on "moving ahead to improve the education of all our student."
"This type of comment, while perfectly legal, insults the integrity of members of this board, and denigrates the hard work of our administrators, our teachers, and all employees of the school district," Butler said.
Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376