The all-volunteer board consists of nine members with three-year terms.
Fifteen candidates had filed their petitions before the Feb. 26 filing deadline, but then four dropped out before Monday's deadline to do so, including two incumbents - Jeffrey Dublin (who is also a Hudson County freeholder) and Anthony Cruz.
Those remaining on the ballot include incumbent Angel Valentin, Moses Ballon, Jenny Campbell, Sebastian D'Amico, Terry Dehere, Michael Esposito, William Frasca, Jenny Garcia, Ben Lopez, Gerald McCann, Israel Nieves, Aida Sanchez, and Arnold Williams.
Members take on an advisory role to state-appointed Schools Superintendent Charles Epps, and will oversee one of the largest and most heavily funded school systems in New Jersey with a budget of $591 million.
Jersey City is currently under state control and has been since 1989. But legislation was approved in 2005 that will start the process of moving control back into city supervision in the next couple of years.Who are the candidates?
There are a number of familiar names on the ballot for the Board of Education election. The candidates are:
Angel Valentin - Has served as a board member since 2004; case manager with the Hudson County Family Crisis Intervention Unit with 18 years of service.
Moses M. Ballon, Jr. - Works for the City of Jersey City.
Jenny Campbell - Executive assistant at Wachovia Bank in New York. Married, the mother of four children, and has lived with her family in Jersey City since 1995.
Lennox "Terry" Dehere - Co-owner of the Blue Ribbon Restaurant in Jersey City; played for three NBA teams from 1993-1999; former St. Anthony's High school basketball star in the late 1980s.
Michael Esposito - A member of the Jersey City Housing Authority Tenant Affairs/Resident Advisory Board, the Hudson Gardens Council, and the Jimmy King Civic Association. Also works at Hudson City Savings Bank as a bank teller.
William Frasca - A retired supervisor from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission; Graduate of Jersey City State College (New Jersey City University).
Jenny Garcia - A mother of five children, four with learning disabilities, and all in the Jersey City public school system. Serves on the Parents Advisory Council for Special Needs for the Jersey City school system.
Benjamin Lopez - Director of the Hudson County Dept. of Family Services; former Business Administrator for Jersey City; former City Councilman.
Gerald McCann - Jersey City Mayor from 1981-1985, 1989-1992; removed from the mayor's office in 1992 after being convicted in federal court on federal charges of fraud and tax evasion (for activities unrelated to the office of mayor), served two years in federal prison; special projects manager for the Jersey City Incinerator Authority from 2002 to 2005.
Aida Sanchez - Worked as an assistant for late Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham; employed currently with the city's Office of Emergency Management.
Arnold Williams - Runs an urban marketing business, Intellectual Media Group, in Bayonne.
There will be in-depth profiles in future editions of this newspaper. Residents speak out
Although the election is citywide, it usually does not receive a wide turnout. But some residents are concerned about their school taxes and the city's schoolchildren, and are asking questions.
Seventy-year old Catherine Grimm is a lifelong Jersey City resident and a product of its school system. She has also become a frequent presence at Board of Education meetings. Last week, she along with other residents shared what they are looking for in the candidates.
Grimm took a "Grimm" view of the candidates.
"What I want to know from those candidates is how they are going to improve the education in this city," said Grimm. "However, how are they going to do that as long as [Charles] Epps is in office?"
Epps, who has come under fire for an expensive trip he took as schools superintendent, has also been serving as an assemblyman and recently decided not to run for another term.
Ward E City Councilman Steven Fulop said last week he won't involve himself this year in backing a slate of candidates, as he did last year.
"I learned my lesson last year in bringing politics into the process," said Fulop.
Fulop said he met with parents involved with the organization JC Family (also known as Child-Friendly Initiative Jersey City) last Sunday to discuss the Jersey City school system.
"We had a meeting with parents concerned about the Jersey City school system," said Fulop. "It was a good conversation and what came out of it was they are looking to schedule a forum where the candidates for the school board elections would present themselves to the community."
Fulop has set some guidelines as to choosing the candidates who will get his vote.
"I want to see someone who has a vested interest in the educational process, and I would avoid those running for political reasons," said Fulop.
In past years, there has been a three-candidate slate (usually the incumbents) that receives the backing of the influential teacher's union, the Jersey City Education Association, and/or the mayor in office. Issues
In the upcoming election, some of the issues that candidates will have to tackle include:
* The state returning the Jersey City school system to local control;
* $3.2 million decrease in state aid to the school system for the 2007-2008 school year;
* A state audit of the Jersey City that found millions of dollars wasted on salaries and outdated services;
* Improving students' test scores;
* The uncertain future of new school construction funded by the state Schools Construction Corporation (SCC). The present board filed a lawsuit against the SCC in February to get repairs done in several Jersey City schools. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org