Nashville's four school board seats on the ballot this August have attracted scant attention given the competitive statewide races and congressional contests going on. They also haven’t seen the big spending from the 2016 school board elections that turned into a referendum on charter schools.
Given the low-key campaigns, we’ve assembled a concise voter guide about the candidates, asking them to answer questions about priorities for the district and their assessment of Metro Schools superintendent Shawn Joseph, in light of recent budget shortfalls and questions about his own spending decisions.
Early voting runs through July 28 and Election Day is August 2.
District 2 — seat of retiring board member Jo Ann Brannon, including schools that feed into Overton H.S.
Radir Annoor has not responded to inquiries from WPLN.
Edward Arnold has three children who currently attend Metro Schools and is pushing for increased participation in the Advanced Placement program by making sure classes are adequately funded.
Wants to increase security and upgrade existing plumbing systems
Says the next problem to prepare for is overcrowding in schools
Rachael Anne Elrod is a former teacher from Clarksville who plans to send her preschool-age twins to MNPS. She wants to increase capacity for schools to address overcrowding.
Wants more state funds for English language learning programs
Pledges to work with Joseph to address transparency and communication issues
Jesse Gentry doesn’t currently have kids in the district, but is in the process of adopting and plans to send them to MNPS.
Wants to focus on teacher recruitment and retention while providing training to help staff manage behavioral issues and cultural competency
Says Joseph has done a fair job in meeting goals, but sees room for improvement through a more transparent and accountable process
Thomas Weber has two kids in Metro schools and a wife who teaches in the district. He operates the “Dad Gone Wild” blog where he comments on MNPS issues. Endorsed by the Metro Nashville Education Association.
Says teacher recruitment and retention is the most pressing need for MNPS.
Has “serious reservations” about the leadership of Joseph. Weber says there is a decline in parental involvement and that the data Joseph uses to show academic progress “does not hold up.”
District 4 — includes schools that feed into McGavock H.S. Anna Shepherd is the current chair of the school board and running unopposed.
District 6 — seat currently held by Tyese Hunter, representing schools that feed into Antioch H.S. and Cane Ridge H.S.
Fran Bush has not responded to inquiries from WPLN, but her Facebook page explains some of her platform.
Criticized Joseph for cutting Reading Recovery program out of the budget.
Wants to add metal detectors to schools.
Tyese Hunter is the incumbent who decided to run and keep her seat after losing a bid for Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk. She has not responded to inquiries from WPLN.
Earl Robert Lattimore has worked with MNPS since 2012 and is currently a consultant for the state Department of Education. He has not responded to inquiries from WPLN.
Aaron McGee has a daughter who isn’t of school age. He wants zoned schools to be a viable option for his family.
Will focus on overcrowding and transportation. “We’ve got to have transportation that matches the growth we are experiencing in Antioch.”
Won’t abandon Joseph, wants to help him get results by creating a clear framework.
District 8 — seat held by Mary Pierce, representing schools that feed Hillsboro H.S.
Adam Barese has two children in MNPS and wants to see a significant increase to teachers' salaries.
Will involve principals, teachers and support staff to figure out where to focus funding.
Says Joseph has “proven less than viable in his role” and “is not the right fit for his position.”
Gini Pupo-Walker is a former MNPS teacher and has two children who graduated from the district. She would focus on improving college readiness for students and the budget shortfall.
Wants to address the “chronic low performance in some of our schools” by seeking out effective programs and “expanding what is working.”
Will work with Joseph to address communication issues around the budget process.
Correction: An earlier version of this story didn't specify that Edward Arnold's children currently attend Metro Schools.