D.C. school board member Bettie Benjamin, who has represented Ward 5 for the past nine years, announced yesterday she will run for reelection in this fall's balloting.

An attorney who was first elected to the school board in 1974, Benjamin is chairman of the specialized education programs committee and also serves on the committees on finance and education programs.

A graduate of Howard University and Howard law school, Benjamin formally launched her candidacy at a reception last night at Bunker Hill School, 14th Street and Michigan Avenue NE.

"I'm running based on my previous service as a school board member," Benjamin said in an interview. "I believe I have served well and want to continue making changes."

Benjamin said she would continue her interest in specialized education programs, her support for competency-based curriculums and her efforts to involve private businesses in school programs.

"I want to continue the modernization of the school buildings, our career centers and computer technology," Benjamin said.

"I am particularly interested in implementing the school board policy I helped develop of an early childhood education program beginining at age 4," she said.

She also said she would support a new system to discipline students in school rather than suspend or expel them.

Benjamin serves as a board member and general counsel for the local Travelers Aid Society, and is a member of a variety of other civic organizations.

So far, Benjamin has no announced opposition in the Nov. 8 nonpartisan election.

School board candidates have until Aug. 31 to file nominating petitions to place their names on the ballot.