Clockwise from top left: Minneapolis school board candidates Laurelle Myhra, Lisa Skjefte, Collin Beachy, KerryJo Felder, Lori Norvell, Abdul Abdi, and Sonya Emerick. Candidate Fathia Feerayarre said she was not available for an interview. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle and Drew Arrieta | Sahan Journal

Months after a historic strike by educators, Minneapolis voters will elect five new school board members this fall. Since no incumbents are running again, more than half of the faces on the nine-member Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education will be new, starting in January.

It’s not an easy time to be a school board member. Throughout Minnesota, school board members have been quitting their jobs in record numbers since 2020. The positions generally don’t pay well and may involve long hours and high stress. Statewide, many school board members are  facing harassment, threats, and disinformation campaigns about how race and gender issues are taught in schools. In Minneapolis, the school board faces academic disparities heightened by remote learning, a student mental health crisis, and lingering tensions from the three-week educator strike. 

Any school board’s most important tasks are to hire the superintendent and pass the district budget. Since superintendent Ed Graff left last summer, the new school board members will have to choose a new leader in their first few months. Board members will also face challenges like declining enrollment, a looming budget shortfall, and strained relationships with families and teachers following the strike and a controversial redistricting plan.

All Minneapolis voters will have the opportunity to vote for two at-large school board members. Some neighborhoods will also vote for a district representative.

Collin Beachy, Sonya Emerick, KerryJo Felder, and Lisa Skjefte are all running for at-large positions. Two will win election.

Abdul Abdi is running unopposed to represent northeast Minneapolis, and Fathia Feerayarre is running unopposed to represent parts of south Minneapolis. (After multiple interview requests over a three-week period, Fathia said she was not available to speak with Sahan Journal.) In another south Minneapolis district, Laurelle Myhra and Lori Norvell are both vying to become the district’s school board representative.

Which of these candidates do you want to help steer the Minneapolis Public Schools for the next four years? Get to know them before you cast your vote.

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Becky Z. Dernbach is the education reporter for Sahan Journal. Becky graduated from Carleton College in 2008, just in time for the economy to crash. She worked many jobs before going into journalism, including...