August means back-to-school time for thousands of students at Atlanta Public Schools. But it also marks the start of election season for the school board.
Aug. 23-25 is the official qualifying period for potential candidates to put their name in the running for the upcoming APS School Board elections, which will take place on Nov. 7. Runoff elections, if necessary, will happen in December.
Board members might not garner as much attention or make headlines like other elected officials, but they play a crucial role overseeing the school district, which serves nearly 50,000 K-12 students.
Five of the board’s nine seats are up for election, and Atlanta residents living within APS’ service area will have the opportunity to vie for a spot. Districts 1,3, and 5 and at-large seats 7 and 9 are up for election.
Are you thinking about running?
Do you need to know more about this civic process?
Don’t sweat it, we got you. Here’s what you need to know.
What are school board members’ responsibilities, and who do they represent?
The board is the district’s official governing body. While overseeing APS’s $1.66 billion budget, the board also holds the power to hire and fire superintendents, fire or suspend employees, and make policies that govern the school system.
The nine members of the school board represent six geographical districts and three at-large districts across the Atlanta Public Schools service area. You can see a full list of the current board members — including incumbents who might be your competition — on the board’s website.
One person is elected per district to represent the schools in a given district for a four-year term. The board appoints the superintendent, who is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the school district.
While the six representatives for each geographical zone represent the schools zoned within their district, the three at-large representatives represent two geographic districts each.
Board members make about $22,500, while the board’s vice chair and chair make $23,500 and $24,000, respectively. This is a part-time job, and the board meets at least once monthly for board meetings that are open to the public.
Am I eligible to run?
Rules outlined in the APS charter say candidates have to be at least 18 years old, a resident within Atlanta city limits, and have resided in the district in which they seek to hold the seat for at least one year. They also have to be eligible to vote in the city and not be employed by the state Department of Education or the state Board of Education.
Ok, I meet all the requirements, but I’m not sure what district I can run for. How can I find out my APS district?
Your APS district can be found utilizing APS’ online interactive school zone locator.
You just need to type in your address, and it will showcase your zoned elementary, middle, and high school. From there, you can utilize the zoned school listing per district to determine which district your address falls into.
How do I start the process?
First things first.
Candidates have from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Aug. 23 to Aug. 25 to file their notice of candidacy with the city of Atlanta’s Office of the Municipal Clerk. You can head down to the office, which is located at Atlanta City Hall at 55 Trinity Ave. SW on the second floor in suite 2700.
When filing their notice, candidates must also pay the $455.10 qualifying fee or submit a Pauper’s Affidavit, stating under oath the candidate’s poverty or inability to pay the qualifying fee.
And then what?
The Office of the Municipal Clerk has created an entire election guide for anyone interested in running in this year’s school board election. Here’s a summary of what you have to do after filing your notice of candidacy, according to the guide:
- Talk to an Expert: Need help with the process? Reach out to Vanessa Waldon, the city’s municipal clerk and election superintendent, at email@example.com, or call (404) 330-6500.
- Understand Georgia’s Election Rules: Take some time to read and understand the State of Georgia Election Code. You can find it here.
- Learn About — and Follow — Campaign Finance Rules: Visit the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission’s website. Here, you’ll find information on the Campaign Finance Act — and the various forms and financial disclosures you need to file. The Georgia Municipal Association also has a useful handbook.
- Declare Intentions to Accept Donations: Fill out a Declaration of Intention to Accept Campaign Contributions Form and send it to the Office of Municipal Clerk.
- Register Your Committee: If you have a campaign committee, register it with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
- File the Necessary Paperwork: Complete the City of Atlanta Electronic Filing Application for the Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report and the Personal Financial Disclosure. You can mail or hand-deliver it to the municipal clerk.
- Start Campaigning: Now you’re ready to hit the campaign trail!
Meet Your (Filing) Deadlines: Don’t forget to file all required disclosure reports according to the deadlines listed by the state’s Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. Keep an eye on your email; you might receive a courtesy reminder from election officials as deadlines approach.
Are you an Atlanta resident with thoughts on the upcoming school board election? Have some concerns you are looking for your potential elected official to address? We want to hear from you. Email our community engagement reporter, Sydney Sims, at firstname.lastname@example.org with notes and thoughts you have in the weeks leading up to Nov. 7.
Capital B is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to uncovering important stories — like this one — about how Black people experience America today. As more and more important information disappears behind paywalls, it’s crucial that we keep our journalism accessible and free for all. But we can’t publish pieces like this without your help. If you support our mission, please consider becoming a member by making a tax-deductible donation. Thank you!