Local man elected to national groupMitchell’s Putnam to serve on US school board group panel.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
It will be April before Neil Putnam takes his seat on the National School Boards Association’s board of directors, but he’s already busily preparing for his new role as one of three western region directors on that board.
The nine-state NSBA Western Region includes South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Oklahoma and Wyoming. Putnam will serve a three-year term on the western region board with Judy Lair, of Kansas, and Barb Riley, of Montana.
Putnam, who works as a planner for the city of Mitchell, was selected for his new responsibility at the September meeting of the western region directors in Bismarck, N.D.
He has served as president of the Mitchell Board of Education and is also a past president of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota
“I’m excited,” said Putnam, who in June was re-elected to a fifth term on the Mitchell board. “This is my learning period and it’s a steep learning curve. I’m humbled and honored by the opportunity to serve students and educators in South Dakota and our region at the national level.”
ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said Putnam’s election to the NSBA board is a historic first for South Dakota.
“His presence gives school board members and educators in our state a committed and experienced voice at the national level for the next three years,” Pogany said.
Putnam said his time spent on the NSBA board will be used to gain a broader understanding of national education initiatives and to communicate the effect those initiatives will have on education in South Dakota and the Western Region.
“When I got involved with the ASBSD, it made me a better Mitchell school board member because I gained a statewide perspective on education issues,” Putnam said.
“My time on the NSBA board will provide me a national perspective to take back to my district, state and association.”
Putnam said the NSBA’s more sparsely populated Western Region has challenges that are different from those in other states.
“Our region often has ag-based economies and a greater distance between districts,” he said, “and our members are strong advocates for local control and more parental involvement. There are also concerns about how federal policies such as common core standards and title funding are affecting our western districts.
Putnam is hopeful his new duties will give Mitchell some exposure on the national level.
“Mitchell has excellent programs that are worth bragging about,” he said.