Pine Bluff and Watson Chapel school districts’ voters will each choose between candidates vying for two school board seats in their respective races in September.
An additional Watson Chapel seat is uncontested. And there is one uncontested race in the White Hall School District.
Pine Bluff Zone 3 candidates:
Incumbent member Piccola Washington is seeking re-election and brings 36 years of experience in education.
“I am running because of my love and concern for students of our district. I believe it is the board’s responsibility to provide a positive influence by exemplifying strong leadership and promoting the importance of student achievement,” Washington said in a written statement. “I understand the importance of putting children first in education and that teaching and learning is the core work of schools.
“I have served two years on the board and would like to have the opportunity to continue the work we have started, specifically the University of Virginia Turn Around program,” she said. “We have managed to provide a positive, cooperative and student-centered atmosphere. We have been a transparent board [that has] worked diligently at following the law and avoiding unnecessary lawsuits. I am a master board member because I have received more than 50 hours of training from the Arkansas School Board Association and National School Board Association and was given a plaque in recognition of this training.”
Herman Horace was a Pine School school board member from 2008 to 2012. He said is pleased with the caliber of teachers and wishes the district hired more.
“I feel the need to serve for the children and people of the district,” Horace said. “I have a grandson in the district. The education coming out of the district is good. We need to attract more quality teachers. The better the teachers, the better the education.
“I can help the district to move forward,” Horace said. “It takes more than one person to make things happen on a board.”
LaTasha R. Savage is running for Pine Bluff’s Zone 4 seat. She could not be reached as of press time.
Incumbent board member Henry Dabner Jr. is seeking re-election in Pine Bluff. He said he wants to devise a comprehensive plan to bring districtwide academic improvement, hold administrators accountable for implementing this plan and improve relationships between employees and central office administrators.
“Education must be child-centered in the district, and community partnerships are essential to improving the current status of all local schools,” he said in a statement.
In the Watson Chapel School District, voters will choose candidates vying for two open seats.
Mack Milner Jr. said he has lived in the Watson Chapel District since 1993, sent two children through its schools and owns businesses in the district. He said that he has friends, including church members, whose children attend the schools. He is running for the first time.
“My daughter graduated from Watson Chapel High School and my son is a current student there,” he said. “I want to help the school perform at as high of a grade as possible. I want to give back to the community. I want to see the school do very well and be there for many more years.”
If elected, Milner said he would learn to ensure “the school be run in an economical manner in the best way for the kids.”
Incumbent board member Shade Culclager Jr. is looking to retain his seat. He said that he has five children who graduated from Watson Chapel and four grandchildren who are currently enrolled.
“My No. 1 priority is to do whatever is necessary to help our administration remove our high school from academic distress,” he said. “I will also be pushing the principals at every campus so that if their schools go into academic distress, I will hold them accountable.”
In such instances, Culclager would allow the the principals to implement a personal improvement plan within a specified time period. If after that time period the school remained in academic distress, he said that the principals would need to be replaced.
“My next priority is our teachers. It has been eight years since our teachers have received a pay raise. And I very well understand that the district is losing students and therefore losing money,” he said, “yet I have heard that every other district in the county is giving pay raises to teachers, even those other districts that are in academic distress.”
He wishes Watson Chapel partnered with the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff in science, technology, education and mathematics. Lastly, he said he wants a more balanced racial makeup for Watson Chapel schools.
Guy Oaks Jr. is running for Watson Chapel’s Zone 5 seat. He could not be reached for comment as of press time.
Goldie Whitaker is running for Watson Chapel’s Zone 5. She said she will publish an advertisement listing her platform in the near future.
In the White Hall School District, Dr. Doug Coleman is running unopposed for the Zone 2 seat currently held by Scott Pittillo, who is not seeking re-election. Because there are no contested races in White Hall, voters will cast ballots early or by absentee ballot. There will be no polling site set up in the White Hall District, Elections Coordinator Will Fox said.
Coleman has three sons enrolled in the White Hall District and is running for the first time. He said he is committed to his community and seeks to improve an already successful operation.
“I have had my medical practice here for 18 years,” Coleman said. “I have experience in management and administration … The school board has great members, so I had no reason to run before.
“I have a diverse experience, probably different from other members of the school board,” he said. “It is quite honestly my desire to serve my community. … I do feel the school board has done an excellent job. I have supported each member in the past.”
Early voting will be conducted at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Sept. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 15 during regular office hours. There will be no Saturday voting. The election will be on Tuesday, Sept. 16, and the polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.