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LRSD School Board Candidates: Greg Adams, Zone 8

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Why are you running for Little Rock School Board?

“I served on the Little Rock School Board from 2010 to 2015 until the state took over, and at that time after the school board was dismissed I really didn't know if I was going to try to run for the school board again. But as the time came closer to when we were going to get to have an elected school board I was just more and more concerned… because you're going to be bringing together nine brand new board members and really have a brand new situation… so I just had to run to try to help those first few years to go as well as possible so that the district could start on a really positive trajectory in this new chapter.”

What experience do you have working in public education?

“Besides being on the school board I was involved in the PTA at Forest Heights Middle School, before it became a STEM school, and was a leader there. I've been a volunteer tutor or reader at Martin Luther King Elementary for almost since it opened, so it's been about two dozen years... I work in education myself in my work at Arkansas Children's Hospital, I do education for the hospital staff and for the community. At UA Little Rock, in the graduate School of Social Work, I teach an elective there and I have done that for over a dozen years.”

“I went to public schools throughout my time… my wife grew up here in Little Rock and she attended public schools and graduated from Central High School, and then both of our children went to public schools.”

What are your main policy goals or things you want to change while in office?

“My biggest concern and goal going forward is that we have a really well functioning school board and that we find a way to listen to the community, take their concerns into account, look at what's been happening since we've been without a school board… build upon the good things that are happening and see those areas that need improvement… but the biggest thing really is for the school board to well represent the community and well work together, so that we can be effective and that we can engender confidence in the community.”

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?

“Part of what's been lost is the connection with the community, that the community hasn’t had way to influence what's happening and to have a voice... and to see sometimes the things the state has done without a lot of explanation or sometimes which seems to go against the concerns of the community, and I think that that's been really disturbing.

“I think that good things have happened in the last six years... I think they've made some progress in building community partnerships, I think they've made some progress in student achievement... to me it's really been a mixed picture, what's happened in the last six years. And our job going forward would be to really try to take this really good energy that's there in the community engagement and try to take advantage of that.”

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 felt like that at the time when the state took over that that was not the right decision. I felt like we had a fairly new board, we had a fairly new superintendent and we were making some progress. I felt like that we should have been given some more time and more partnership working with the state.

“I think going forward we have to just keep the focus on what it is that we need to be doing for kids because, while progress was made in the past for student achievement, there was so much progress that needed to be made for some segments of our school district that it was going too slow and nobody was satisfied with that.”

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?

“There are some requirements… the district has to make in order to be free from those restrictions. I hope that we can meet those requirements and that the state will be true to their word. I would also be glad if some of the legal actions that are being taken by some citizens that challenge those restrictions, I'll be glad if the court would see that those were inappropriate.”

How will you handle any disagreements between board members or with the superintendent or the Department of Education?

“Whenever the board is elected… before they're sworn in and begin their work in December, I really think what needs to happen is that that group of people needs to have a facilitated, retreat-style meeting where they could have a chance to talk about, ‘How do we want to act as a board?’ We are to be a team, we all come from different backgrounds and places and have different concerns, but we're going to be most effective if we can work together.”