On Tuesday, Atlanta voters chose a new school board—half of one at least.
Ten candidates competed for five spots on the Atlanta Board of Education in the Nov. 7 election, which oversees Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Districts 1, 3, 5, and at-large citywide seats 7 and 9 were all on the ballot, with District 1 incumbent Katie Howard running unopposed.
Starting with this race, Atlanta School Board elections are now staggered, so that city residents elect board members every two years, instead of every four. In 2025, the even-numbered school board districts will be up for election, along with the Atlanta mayor and city council.
Here are the unofficial results, as of 1:44 a.m. Wednesday:
Katie Howard (unopposed): 100% / 4,266 votes
Ken Zeff: 63% / 4,917 votes
Michelle Olympiadis (incumbent): 37% / 2,891 votes
Erika Mitchell (incumbent): 70% / 3,012 votes
Raynard Johnson: 30% / 1,289 votes
District 7 At-Large
Tamara Jones (incumbent): 48.2% / 12,996 votes
Alfred “Shivy” Brooks: 47.3% / 12,764 votes
William Sardin: 4.5% / 1,214 votes
* There will be a runoff election on Dec. 5 for Jones and Brooks, since neither candidate received 50% plus 1 vote.
District 9 At-Large
Jessica Johnson (incumbent): 54.5% / 14,441 votes
Nkoyo Effiong Lewis: 45.5% / 12,075
The school board members oversee operations for Atlanta Public Schools, which educates nearly 50,000 K-12 students, manages a $1.66 billion budget, and is currently recruiting a new superintendent. Dr. Michelle Battle has been serving as interim APS superintendent since August, after the board notified Dr. Lisa Herring, whom it hired in 2020, that her contract would not be renewed.
The school board races were the only elections on the ballot for city of Atlanta voters – and turnout was low, despite board members’ significant role for APS. Fewer than 25,000 people came out to vote, representing about 5.3% of the city’s registered voters.
“I cast my vote for the school board because it’s impactful to our children, which then trickles out to the rest of us,” said Payal Shah, who was voting at Park Tavern in Midtown. “I know a lot of people don’t show up for these smaller elections, so I wanted to make sure that I came out to support the candidates that I liked today.”
Polls opened at 7 a.m. on Election Day, but only 39 voters had voted as of 10:20 a.m. at the Helene Mills Senior Center precinct in the Old Fourth Ward. At Park Tavern in Piedmont Park, only 109 voters had cast ballots by 1:50 p.m. One Atlanta poll worker estimated turnout was about half that of the November 2021 mayoral election and just a quarter of the November 2022 presidential election.
Some of the Election Day voters who spoke to Atlanta Civic Circle and Capital B Atlanta on Tuesday said particular candidates or issues brought them to the polls.
“I’m advocating for increased pay for teachers, increased support, and I know that there’s a big gap for students with literacy and math scores. It’s all over my TikTok – teachers talking about their experiences and how post-COVID, it’s changed teaching,” said Hannah Risman, 23, of Midtown.
Others believe it’s important to turn out in every local election, especially when turnout is low. “I feel like these types of elections don’t get a lot of notice, but they are so important to the day-to-day operations,” said Ayana Cummings, 27, of Campbellton Road.
Some parents brought their APS students with them to their polling places to show how important voting is and give them a sense of what it’s like to fulfill their civic duties.
“We’re here for her,” said Laura Beth Andres of Midtown, gesturing to her young daughter Naomi after she and her husband Tommy voted at the Park Tavern precinct on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re just learning to engage with more local elections. … And a big reason for that is because of our 6-year-old,” Andres said. “We are thrilled with the schools in this area, which is a big reason why we moved here – and we want to keep making sure that the schools continue to be great. We love how diverse the staff and the student body is.”