School Committee: William (Bill) Padien
William (Bill) Padien is running unopposed for his fourth four-year term on the Block Island School Committee. For all but two of those 12 years, Padien has served as the committee’s chair. During his tenure, he also took on chairmanship of the school building committee, overseeing the design and construction of the most recent addition to the Block Island School.
“I think we have a great school,” he said, exuding enthusiasm and pride. “We have so much one-on-one teaching, no kid should fall between the cracks.”
Asked to identify accomplishments during his time on the board, Padien quickly ticked off a shortlist: completing the building project, changing the management structure back to the superintendent model, keeping the finances in check as much as possible, and recently, the increase in student state test scores.
In addressing a public concern that per pupil costs on Block Island are extremely high, Padien maintains education costs at the Block Island School are on a par with those of other school districts. It is, he says, the non-educational costs that contribute to that high per pupil cost, such as sky-high power bills. Although the building has some solar panels, they mostly keep the computer networks going, and Padien would like to add more.
Enrollment has dipped recently, but Padien says that is due to several families moving off island who had a total of nine children. He is more interested in talking about additions to the school, in particular, new staff. “I’m excited about the new young teachers… their enthusiasm spreads to others,” he says, adding that the new math teacher actually has the children “excited” about math.
Looking ahead to another term, Padien would like to be there to evaluate the new school day schedule, which was just implemented, and continue to work to make the finances the least onerous as possible to the taxpayers while making sure the money that is needed is there. He also spoke of trying to motivate more young parents to attend school meetings on an ongoing basis, and involving the rest of the community in some of the school activities like athletics.