School Committee: Annie Hall
Annie Hall decided to run for a slot on the Block Island School Committee when her first child was just a baby. That was 16 years ago. Now her daughter is a Block Island School senior and Hall is still on the committee, up for election to her fifth four-year term.
She ran the first time because she was interested in getting involved in the school, and now “I still enjoy being a public servant and being involved in the school,” Hall said.
With children in the high school (besides the senior she has a sophomore), the middle school (a fifth grader) and the elementary school (a first grader), this young mother has a stake in making sure the educational system is up to snuff.
Hall identifies the construction of the school addition and the renovation of the existing building as a major accomplishment of her tenure on the board. “We got the school out of the basement,” she said.
She sees her role on the board as very supportive of teacher development and any kind of curriculum development. Like Chair William Padien, she views the fact that student state test scores keep going up as a positive achievement.
Asked about the drop in enrollment at the school, Hall attributes it to the economy. When the economy is good, she says, more people live here, but when it is bad, they leave. Some may seek more socialization and extra curriculum for their kids, she admits, giving as an example “the Block Island School can’t offer some things the mainland has, like football.” But, she reveals, when consultants come out to the island, she discusses her own children with them, wondering if she is doing the right thing staying and schooling them here. “They say, absolutely,” Hall states. “Some consultants who come remark we are doing such a good job with the school.”
As for the high cost per pupil on Block Island, she attributes that to the small number of children. “The power bill is $10,000 a month,” she states. “We don’t have a lot of children out here. That’s really the bottom line.” Like Padien, she would like to see more solar power.
What does she look ahead to during her next term? She is the chair of the school’s new wellness team, a state mandated group that works on improving the physical and mental wellbeing of the students. “Our policy was the template for the state,” she mentions.
Citing the strong administrative team and the staff, she says, “I think the school is right on course… sometimes I drive by at night and there are still teachers there at 5:30 p.m. working.”