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Newark residents elect school board members with full governing power for 1st time in two decades

NEWARK, NJ — For the first time in more than two decades, Newark residents will elect a school board that has full governing power.

In 1995, the State of New Jersey took over Newark schools in an effort to improve upon their performance. But outside control riled parents and yielded lackluster results.

"Not having a say-so about what is going on, there has been a lot of destruction. There has been divestment," said Viva White, whose 10-year-old son attends a Newark school.

Voters will pick representatives to fill three board seats from a crowded field of 11 candidates.

They will also answer a ballot question to decide whether to raise taxes by 2% to further fund schools.

"Because we now have local control, it’s up to us to come out and vote," said another Newark parent, Yolanda Key.

Voter turnout appeared low or fair at best, and problems were reported at the polls.

Some said that their polling place opened late or voting machines were down. Other reports include a poll worker wearing a shirt in support of a particular candidate and another poll worker making remarks against a particular candidate inside a polling place.

Some have suggested moving Newark school board elections to coincide with national elections.

"One thing city may want to consider is moving elections to uniform date in November so people more involved and aware," said Chané Jones, associate counsel for New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and a Newark resident.

The polls close at 8 p.m.

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