This story was published as part of our #APSVotes project with Atlanta Civic Circle to help shed light on APS school board elections.

Nov. 7 marks Election Day for city of Atlanta voters for the Atlanta School Board election.

Ten candidates are vying for five open seats on the governing body for Atlanta Public Schools. The nine Atlanta School Board members manage APS’s $1.66 billion annual budget and oversee 84 learning sites across the district, which serves more than 50,000 students.

In a majority-Black school district where 71% of students are economically disadvantaged, the school board election should be a focal point for the Black community. Today, voters had the opportunity to vote for candidates for Districts 1, 3, 5 and for at-large citywide seats 7 and 9.

For the past 12 weeks, Capital B Atlanta has partnered with Atlanta Civic Circle on our #APSVotes project to deliver original reporting that unpacks the significance of these elections.

With polls opening for the final time today, we headed out to talk to voters about their biggest motivations at the ballot box.

Here’s what we heard.

Ayana Cummings, 27, educator, Campbellton Road

“The biggest thing with the [school] board is funding … money for different programs, salaries. They even control smaller stuff like setting the school calendar. I feel like these type of elections don’t get a lot of notice, but they are so important to the day-to-day operations.” 

Sherry Bennett, 67, retired, Ben Hill

“I have grandchildren in APS so that matters. When I think about how our neighborhood becomes what it is, the school is really at the center of that. So I wanted to make sure I came out to vote and elect officials who are showing up for our children.” 

Paul, 60, retired, Ben Hill

“It’s important to vote because our voices need to be heard … especially with these schools. As residents of this area, we need to keep an eye on it, because issues are always local.” 

Monie, 32, server, Adamsville

“When I think about the school board, I think about how much money they are in charge of. All of that money decided on by nine people means as a city, we have to take this election seriously. I hope we get members who care about our schools and want to make sure all of our kids have equal opportunities.”

Lisa, 40, homemaker, Adamsville 

“I came out to support my candidate, but I also came out because school boards matter. We need representation that makes sure our kids are able to leave APS and become anything they want to be.” 

Sydney Sims is the community engagement reporter for Capital B Atlanta. Twitter @bySydneySims