Newark School Board Candidates Talk About Mental Health and Loss of Education in the run-up to the April 19 election

April 17, 2022

Newark voters will go to the polls on April 19 to elect three members of the school council and decide on local taxation for the next school year.

Seven candidates are vying for the open seats in a nine-member panel. A’Dorian Murray-Thomas and Daniel Gonzalez met with new candidate Crystal D. Williams on a ballot paper that was supported by political powers, including Mayor Ras Baraka and State Senator M.A. Theresa Ruiz, the leader of the Senate-backed majority, is struggling. Other candidates are Maggie Freeman, Allison K. James-Frieson, Thomas Luna and Phillip Wilson.

The district’s $ 1.2 billion spending plan for the 2022-2023 school year is largely supported by $ 1 billion in government grants, $ 120 million more than the school year. The spending plan also includes $ 138.3 million from local taxes, the amount collected through Newark property taxes to fund schools. The amount of tax for the following year, if approved by the electorate, shall remain the same as the tax for the current academic year.

If voters reject the proposed tax, the budget is sent to the city council for a vote on the tax reduction.

The vote comes as the district receives a historic infusion of federal money. Board members make important decisions about policies to address the serious educational loss in the district and the mental health crisis among young people across the state.

School council members develop district policies and participate with district officials in monthly meetings of the committee on programs and guidelines, personnel and policy, finance, and other topics. The board also elects a chief and holds that official accountable.

Voter turnout in the annual Newark School council race was low over the years, accounting for about 3-4% of registered voters. The Essex County Electoral Council has released an updated list of voting sites that will open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. A sample bulletin is also available on the District Council website.

Chalkbeat asked each candidate the same seven questions as to why voters should consider them in their posts, the challenges they face in the district today, and so on. Readers can find candidate answers using the interactive feature below. The responses were lightly edited for clarity.


The story was originally published by Chalkbeat, a non-profit news organization that covers people’s education. Subscribe to their newsletter here.

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