The race is on

Two slates vie for Jersey City Board of Education seats

Jersey City residents will vote for three Jersey City Board of Education candidates in the Nov. 3 election. Photo: Rob Crandall / Shutterstock.com
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Jersey City residents will vote for three Jersey City Board of Education candidates in the Nov. 3 election. Photo: Rob Crandall / Shutterstock.com

Jersey City has three school board seats up for election this November. Two slates are vying to represent the district and its roughly 30,000 students.

Six candidates on the Change for Children slate and the Education Matters slate will face off.

Candidates seek to fill three seats of the nine-member board for a three-year term.

Current Board of Education President Lorenzo Richardson, Vice President Gina Verdibello, and Board of Education Trustee Lekendrick Shaw are running for reelection as part of the Education Matters ticket.

They’ll face Asheenia Johnson, a former aide to Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson, Sonia Cintron who ran as an independent candidate last year, and newcomer Karen Poliski.

No independent candidates are running.

Last year Jersey City was home to the most costly school board race in the state, with more than $700,000 raised and roughly $600,000 spent, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

The LeFrak Organization, a Jersey City development company, drove spending in the race, which raised $465,000 through a political committee called Fairer NJ in support of the “Change for Children” ticket.

The “Education Matters” slate of primarily school board incumbents benefited from the spending of the local branch of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the Jersey City Education Association.

Using its state-registered political action committee, NJEA gave donations of $30,000 to its candidates and reported spending $504,202 through its super PAC, Garden State Forward (GSF), on elections statewide.

At least $18,296 from GSF was spent on Facebook ads backing Jersey City School Board candidates

GSF issued a $195,831 check on Oct. 21 for “literature, mail, signs, and online ads.”

During last year’s election, incumbent Gerald Lyons of the Education Matters slate was elected to serve a three-year term, as did Change for Children slate members Noemi Velasquez and Alexander Hamilton.

Incumbents Gina Verdibello and Lekendrick Shaw, also of the Education Matters slate, were each elected to serve a one-year term.

Those who are elected will have to tackle a number of issues, including the district’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and federal and state funding cuts.

The district faces a loss of more than $175 million in state aid over the next five years due to changes in the state’s funding formula.

The district composed of more than 40 schools, lost $27 million in state aid last year.

The board approved a budget of $736 million in May to try and address both obstacles.

The 2020-2021 budget includes a 39 percent increase in the school tax levy by a total of $53 million.

A homeowner with an average assessed property value of $452,000 will see the school tax portion of the tax bill increase by approximately $46 a month or $550 a year.

The registration deadline to vote in the next election is 21 days prior to Election Day.

For more information voter registration, visit  www.hudsoncountyclerk.org. 

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.