Alvin Crusto, Jr.

Political newcomer Alvin Crusto Jr. is seeking to fill the District 7 seat on the Orleans Parish School board. Crusto says he is qualified for the board set because of his vast experiences as an educator, including 30 years as a teacher in the Orleans Parish School System and the Recovery School District (RSD).

When asked about the EnrollNOLA (formerly OneApp) process, Crusto, a real estate investor, says he thinks all neighborhood schools should be open and parents should have first choice to send their child to good schools close to home.

Crusto says that his main concern is the operation of the charter schools in the parish. Under state law, the school board cannot interfere with the operation of a charter school as long as they are following the rules set by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. As a result, the school board cannot make curriculum decisions and charters make their own budgets.

“My problem with charters is that some are not doing a good job servicing special education students,” he says. “Some students don’t have books. Some school leaders make so much money that the money is not trickling down to the students.”

If elected, Crusto says that he would make sure that any school applying for a charter has a plan in place to give the students vocational training that would allow them to become “skilled, productive, taxpaying citizens right after high school.”

Nolan Marshall, Jr.

Nolan Marshall is no stranger to the Orleans Parish school system. Before he was elected to the District 7 School Board seat, Marshall ran a successful school photography business for more than four decades and describes himself as a public education advocate.

Marshall says that although he doesn’t have the classroom experience that his opponents have, he has lived his life in the school system and has been active trying to improve education. If reelected, Marshall says he will finish the tasks that he set out to do almost four years ago.

Marshall says he will make sure the community is included in the unification process to ensure that the discussions are meeting the needs of the community.

When asked about the current leadership of the school board, Marshall says that he is proud of the leadership the School Board has taken to return all schools, to select a great superintendent and to reduce the current debt so more money is in the classroom.

However, Marshall added that he believes too much time is being spent arguing about “adult issues” and not enough about the issues that affect the children. With your support and vote in the upcoming election, Marshall says that he will continue to improve equity and opportunity for all public school students.

Kwame Smith

Kwame Smith is running for the District 7 Orleans Parish School Board seat because he wants to be “a voice for the community.” Smith, who ran for the seat in 2012 but lost to the incumbent, says he hears from constituents that the incumbent is not listening and taking into concern things that are important to them. If elected, he says he will be a candidate for the people and one that doesn’t follow special interests outside the community.

When asked about the EnrollNOLA process, Smith says that the focus should be on neighborhood schools.

“Parents should be allowed to walk into neighborhood schools and register during the enrollment period and if they want to apply to a selective school, that should be their choice too, “ he says. He added that the “real choice” issue should be handled with honesty, sincerity and clarity.

Smith believes that the main focus of the unification process should be looking at the big policies that will economically affect the public school system and regenerate tax dollars to provide quality leadership and education for all students.

He says that vocational training should be available to all students.

“As much as we would like, all students will not go to college; and schools need to be able to give young people skills and opportunities,” he says. Although Act 91 does not allow the school board to interfere with the school curriculum, Smith says that if elected, he would propose having specialty schools that focus on vocational training if those types of programs will not be put into existing schools.

The New Orleans Tribune

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