Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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February 25, 2014

Hall stepping down from Ashland Board of Education

ASHLAND — A veteran school board member first elected at the dawn of Kentucky’s education reform era is stepping down from the Ashland Board of Education.

Trish Hall, who first served on the board in 1991, is resigning because she is moving out of the district.

Her resignation comes 23 years after her first election in 1991, the year after the General Assembly passed the Kentucky Education Reform Act that resulted in sweeping changes in how public schools were operated and financed, and how student progress was evaluated.

“It’s unimaginable, that kind of dedication to one cause ... we hate the technicality that forces her out,” board chairman Charlie Chatfield said at Monday’s meeting, which was Hall’s last.

Hall is not leaving Ashland but can’t be on the board because she is moving to a section of the city that remained in the Boyd County school district after it was annexed.

Leaving the board is a sad but timely action, according to Hall. “”It’s probably time. I’d be up for election in the fall and I had decided not to run. It’s been a long time since I’ve had children in the district. It’s time but I will miss it very much,” she said.

Hall came to the school board after several years as an active school parent; the first of her three children started school in 1976. As a PTA member, she sat in on meetings in an era when boards convened and went directly into closed sessions.

Thus Hall spent hours getting to know and discussing school matters with teachers and administrators. “It was an opportunity to learn,” she said.

KERA changed the way boards work and Hall was there to see the change. “I was lucky to come along at a time when the values of the school board changed,” she said.

Modern Kentucky school boards concentrate on setting policy and priorities for their districts, but previously they were heavily involved in hiring. That meant when she took office she continued to get occasional calls from constituents wanting her to put in a word for a friend or relative. “I’d say that’s not what I do,” she said.

Hall is a fan of KERA, the aim of which was to make school funding more equitable and which brought more state money to poorer eastern districts. That meant more money for technology at the dawn of the computer age, more for school libraries, more for teacher training. Hall called it “a tremendous turnaround” that finally gave schools the resources for quality education and started Kentucky’s move from the bottom to its stance now in the middle of the educational pack.

A longtime patron of the arts, Hall also has been an advocate for arts in school; she worked with former superintendent Phil Eason whose research on learning convinced him that the arts are important components in brain development.

“She has been a catalyst fot the academic team, and the strings program is probably on her shoulders,” Superintendent Steve Gilmore said.

Hall said she also is proud that Ashland placed librarians in each elementary and hired music and art teachers for the elementaries.

During her tenure the district built a track and soccer field, added the new entrance complex to Putnam Stadium and largely renovated Paul Blazer High.

The district will advertise for applicants to replace Hall; applications will go to the state education commissioner’s office in Frankfort where they will be screened.

Selected applicants will be interviewed and a replacement appointed by the commissioner within 90 days. The new member will serve out the remainder of Hall’s term, which ends in December.

Hall said though she won’t be living in the district, she and her husband Roger will continue to root for Ashland. “Once a Tomcat, always a Tomcat,” she said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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