Andre Dickens and Felicia Moore are not going to be the only candidates up for office this month. Two seats on Atlanta’s board of education are also going to be decided by voters during the November 30 runoff election.

 

The city wide ballot will have voters choose who will fill the board’s District 7-At-Large seat. Voters in District 2 will select their local representative to the board.

Early voting for the special runoff election is from November 17-24. The candidates for seat 7-At-Large, Tamara Jones is an urban planner who says her professional experience collaborating with the public and private sectors to the school board.

Two of Jones’ three children graduated from APS during the pandemic and the third is in the class of 2026. Jones said she decided to run because after years of involvement in the schools she saw some of the same issues coming up consistently across the district.

“The biggest one is that people feel like they haven’t been heard— that there’s no legitimate structure for parents and caregivers, neighbors, students and teachers to really be partners in decision making,” Jones said.

In addition to making sure there is an open line of communication to the board, Jones said she wants to focus on literacy. She aims to have 100 percent of the class of 2032 reading proficiently by the 5th grade.

Kanesha “KaCey” Venning has spent her career working in education and mental health centered non-profits with APS students.

Venning emphasizes her work providing wrap-around services to support students in and out of schools. Since she co-founded a non-profit in 2011, Venning has been working with black male students from Washington and Douglass High Schools.

If elected Venning says she wants to make sure the school board and city council are collaborating as much as possible.

“I say that in order for a child to really have a holistic experience we have to also look at what is happening from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m,” said Venning.

As someone who is actively working with school aged kids, Venning believes she is uniquely positioned to be a voice on the board to point out what needs to happen outside of school for students to be successful in the classroom.

 

The candidates for District 2; only elected by voters in city council districts 3 and 4 Aretta Baldon (I) was first elected to the Atlanta school board in a 2019 special election. A graduate of Spelman College, she is also mother to a 2020 APS graduate and former parent organizer and PTO President.

“I realized that your zip code was dictating the quality of education that you receive in the City of Atlanta,” Baldon said of why she originally decided to run for the board.

If re-elected Baldon says she wants to continue working to improve communication between the board and the community and focus on student outcomes and support.

Keisha Carey is an Atlanta native and graduate of Atlanta Public Schools and Clark Atlanta University. Prior to her decision to pursue a career in corporate America, Carey worked as a substitute teacher for years.

“People need to feel that they can trust the school system,” Carey said. “The school board needs to make practical decisions everyday. A lot of people feel like they need trust— and therefore new leadership is needed.”

Carey says her priorities on the board will be to address learning loss due to the pandemic and increasing transparency between the schools and families. She also wants to increase high school graduation rates and implement entrepreneurial programs for APS students who are not college bound.

Atlanta Public Schools has officially renamed Brown Middle School to Herman J. Russell West End Academy. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Atlanta Public Schools)