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What questions should Memphis school board candidates answer? Help us shape Chalkbeat’s 2020 voter guide.

Poll worker Wardell Chambers tears stickers Tuesday, March 3, 2020, while voting at Pine Hills Community Center in Memphis.
Poll worker Wardell Chambers tears stickers Tuesday, March 3, 2020, while voting at Pine Hills Community Center in Memphis.
Max Gersh/The Commercial Appeal

Coronavirus or not, there’s a school board election coming up in less than three months.

And like everything else, voting on Aug. 6 won’t look the same as last year because of the pandemic. But Chalkbeat’s commitment to hearing what education issues you’re most passionate about to inform the creation of our candidate survey hasn’t changed.

We want to know what questions you have for candidates and what you think they should prioritize if they win the election. Scroll to the bottom of this story to share your thoughts with us.

As a refresher, 15 people are running for five seats on the Shelby County Schools board in districts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. The nine members of the school board set the district’s direction, approve money for Memphis schools, and have the power to hire, evaluate, and fire the superintendent.

The races for school board will be on the Aug. 6 ballot along with two other races in the county and primary elections for about two dozen state and national offices.

Superintendent Joris Ray, center, honors long-serving school board members at a meeting in January. From left, Miska Clay Bibbs, Scott McCormick, and Stephanie Love are up for re-election this year. Shante Avant and Billy Orgel won re-election in 2018. Kevin Woods, right, is also running for re-election.
Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat

Tennessee is not among the states that have expanded mail-in ballots due to concerns about contracting the coronavirus. So far, election officials plan for in-person voting — with some modifications.

Poll workers will be expected to wear gloves and masks, stickers on the floor will designate where voters can stand in line 6 feet apart, and polling places will have separate one-way entrances and exits to minimize close contact with others, said Linda Phillips, the Shelby County administrator of elections.

Voters also will use disposable styluses to touch the screens on the voting machines and see-through shields will be installed at check-in tables and between voting machines.

Phillips said she expects more people to apply for absentee ballots, but only people over 60 can receive a mail-in ballot for any reason. People younger than that must prove they are unable to vote in-person for an excused reason. Fear of contracting COVID-19 is not one of them.

“We want our voters to be safe and we’re doing everything we can to make that happen… COVID-19 is serious, but it doesn’t have to end life as we know it,” she said, citing a small number of new coronavirus cases linked to Wisconsin’s controversial in-person primary election last month. Scientists disagree on whether there were more cases linked to voters gathering.

To let us know what you want us to ask the school board candidates or share the education issues you think should be at the forefront, fill out the form below by June 5:

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