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The candidates at a forum hosted by the Newark NAACP in March.

The candidates at a forum hosted by the Newark NAACP in March.

A Newark voters’ guide to the 11 candidates vying for three school board seats

Newark voters have a big decision to make this month: From 11 candidates, who should fill three open seats on the city’s school board?

To prepare voters for the April 16 election, Chalkbeat surveyed the candidates about their qualifications and ideas for the school system, which includes more than 36,000 students in over 60 traditional schools. More than 17,000 additional students attend charter schools, which are overseen by separate school boards.

For the first time in over two decades, voters will also choose whether to approve a property tax increase to help fund the schools.

Six of this year’s candidates are running on teams: Shayvonne Anderson, A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, and Tave Padilla, a current board member, are part of the Moving Newark Schools Forward slate that is backed by the mayor, North Ward politicians, and charter school advocates. Denise Cole, Saafir Jenkins, and Leah Owens, another current board member, are part of the Children Over Politics slate. The remaining five candidates are running independently.

All but one shared their thoughts on what’s working well and what needs improvement in the city’s schools; how to support “chronically absent” students who miss 10 percent or more of school days in a given year; and whether the charter sector, which now educates about a third of Newark students, should continue to expand.

Read their responses to Chalkbeat’s survey below.