Candidates see similar challenges facing Williston schools, district: Coleman the board veteran

Elizabeth Coleman is a veteran of the Williston school board.

In April, Coleman will have been on the board 18 years or six terms. During her time, she has been the board chairperson four times.

"I've got four gavels," she said of the wooden mallets, the symbol of the office.

School board elections are April 14. Coleman and fellow school board member Calvin Melton are running for reelection. Facing them is challenger Alan Mulligan for one of their seats.

During her tenure, Coleman has not minded asking tough questions, second-guessing assumptions and confronting issues.

"It's not about me. I've run because it's about the children and what the community wants. I want to be fair and see what I can do," she said.

Money issues and the condition of the district's buildings would be on her mind if reelected to a seventh term, she said.

Coleman doesn't know whether another bond referendum is in the future, but finding new sources of money for the district is, she said.

"We need a lot of repairs with our schools. We need to find other sources so we don't have to aggravate our taxpayers," she said. "We have less money to do things with."

Coleman said she would be interested to see if any federal stimulus package money from Washington D.C. could be applied to the Williston district to help with its repairs or new facilities.

"Some of our buildings are the oldest in the state anyway," she said. "I'm sure the kids would like a new building."

Coleman retired from the Savannah River Site where she was a lab technician. She has two grown children, one of whom graduated from Williston-Elko High School.

Since coming onto the school board, Coleman said she has been pleased with the improvement of the quality of the teachers within the district.

Coleman said she would like to see students take their education more seriously.

"The children need to get their priorities in order in terms of education," she said. "They might think it's a game but it's their future. It's what I preach all the time."