LRSD School Board Candidates: Benjamin R. Coleman, Jr., Zone 8
Why are you running for Little Rock School Board?
“I have a 10-year-old daughter in the Little Rock School District. I come from a family of educators… once you get to a certain age or a certain point of your own career, it's time to reach back and help others just to make sure that the overall goal is to help the children succeed. Anything other than that, you really don't need to be looking to run for public office.”
What experience do you have working in public education?
“I’m a product of public schools. I have not been a formal educator, like I said, my background is business.” “My mom was a 54-year educator… my dad was a former school board member in another public school district.”
What are your main policy goals or things you want to change while in office?
“I don’t know necessarily that I want to get into making changes. I think during the times that we’re in now you have to get in and you have to assess things to make an educated decision. The most important thing we’re dealing with right now is this transmission of COVID-19, so that that that would definitely be at the top of my list.”
How has the LRSD fared the past five years without a locally-elected school board? How would you re-introduce the concept of a school board?
“I think it's been a tremendous task on the advisory board and the superintendent on just making sure things are above water. I don't want to get into necessarily now what I would change, my idea right now is to support and to make sure we're we're headed in the right direction educational-wise, financially, and to just be a guide… I wouldn’t give them a grade either way now. The overall goal still has to be the success of the kids.”
Do you think the state takeover of the LRSD in 2015 was fair? What would you do to make sure that wouldn’t happen again?
“I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think that the school district didn’t need local control… at this point there's a whole lot of things that I'm not privy to. I'm not going in thinking that I know everything, it’s a learning process for everybody. I think just hitting the ground running, getting the proper information, training ourselves accordingly, continue to engage with our constituents not only in our zone but throughout the whole district would be the right thing to do.”
What can and can’t you do as a LRSD school board member under the state guidelines? Are you worried the public’s expectations will be more than what you can actually do?
“When I’m talking to parents and also teachers… the most important thing is dealing with this transition going back into schools. COVID-19 is the most important issue that we’re dealing [with] right now even in the school district but in the country. So I don’t want to go into what we can and cannot do as a board. The overall objective is to not lose any more lives.”
How will you handle any disagreements between board members or with the superintendent or the Department of Education?
“I'm a former athlete. I could never get the job done by myself, so you have to be willing to make tough decisions, have tough conversations, and know that it’s nothing personal… there's no ulterior motives with me, I'm here to make sure that the students, the teachers, the staff and administration have everything they need to progress. Simple as that.”