The board is made up of nine members that control the operation of the school district. However, with the state takeover of the Jersey City School district in 1989, some of the board's activities are limited.
"The state came in 1989 because of questions about the operation of the district and low test scores," said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Joanne Kenny. The state took over the system and designated it an "Abbot District." An Abbot District is one which has been judged to be in a financially needy, urban community. According to state law as established by the New Jersey Supreme Court's rulings in the Abbott v. Burke, children in these designated districts have the right to attend safe and well run public schools, and the schools get extra funding.
"The [school] board does not vote on the budget," Kenny explained. "They do, however, look at all hirings, although they do not have the final say. The board controls the rest of the operations of the school system."
The Jersey City School district had its first public elections after the 1989 takeover in 1995. As in the case of the previous elections, the board elections held April 15 will be conducted by the Hudson County Board of Elections.
Kenny spoke optimistically about the school district's improvement as far as grades were concerned.
"Since the takeover by the state, we have moved forward in regards to scores," said Kenny, adding the district has adhered to most of the state's requirements for issues concerning attendance and dropout rates.
Kenny was unable to say where the school district was on the timeline to come out from state control. New Jersey Department of Education representative Richard Vespucci did not return phone calls last week when called on the matter.
The term of incumbent Anthony Cucci, a former Jersey City mayor and council member, is expiring. Also expiring is the term of board member William DeRosa. Both men successfully ran for the positions on the board in 2000 and Cucci has served as the president of the board.
Cucci and DeRosa will run for re-election.
The third candidate, Rev. Edward Allen, will not be running for re-election, said Kenny.
Besides incumbents Cucci and DeRosa, the other candidates are Ronnie Clark, Dean Frasier, Nadia Gomez, Hilary Zackroff-Jersey, Janet Murphy, and Robert Rosario.
Polls will be open at 178 locations around the city, according to Kenny.
"It's a large number of polling places," said Kenny. "People will vote in same locations as they did in the last municipal elections."
Public reactions to the upcoming election were mixed. Nilda Acosta, who has a 10-year-old daughter at School 12, said she was going to vote in the Board of Education elections. "This is important," said Acosta. "I do want some say in my child's education."
"I plan to vote, but I wonder what good it does," said Dwayne Johnson, having lunch in a downtown sandwich shop. "It's our tax dollars, you know."
Voting times will be from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
According to Kenny, each of the terms up for the vote this year will be for three years.