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Turning around the city's struggling school district is one of the biggest issues facing the Rochester community, and this election voters will have a chance to select three officials who will be among those leading the charge.
Three of the seven seats on the Rochester Board of Education are up for grabs in the Nov. 5 election.
This year's race attracted the largest candidate field in at least a decade.
Ten candidates competed in the Democratic primary in September, with two others securing endorsements from the Green and Republican parties. There will be eight candidates on the ballot Nov. 5.
Those who win will be charged with setting policy and spending for a district that has struggled to improve its performance in the face of rising education standards.
The candidates bring with them ideas for turning those numbers around, from early childhood programs to those that prepare students for careers.
Here are the candidates:
Jos� Cruz (incumbent): Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines
During his four years on the city school board, Cruz, 59, says he has gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of the school system, including the growing number of mandates and standards being handed down by the state and federal governments.
Cruz, who runs his own consulting company, believes that the district needs to address the root causes of its problems in order to improve student performance. Some examples of that might include addressing attendance and finding ways to support students and families outside of the school day.
Howard Eagle: Freedom Party line
Eagle, 59, believes the district needs to get back to focusing on basic skills such as reading, writing and math that serve as the foundation for learning.
Although Eagle has not secured a school board seat in any of his four previous runs for the board, he has remained a constant presence at school board meetings and other events, earning a reputation as an activist and advocate for students and parents.
Cynthia Elliott (incumbent): Democratic Party line
Elliott, 58, believes one of the district's biggest issues moving forward is creating more stability among the district's leadership and making its operations more efficient.
In her two terms on the city school board, Elliott has been a consistent advocate for diversifying the district's staff to better reflect the student population.
Although the vast majority of city students are black or Latino, the district's staff is predominantly white. She also has advocated using classroom materials that include and reflect African-American culture.
Ronald Hall: Freedom Party line
Newcomer Ronald Hall, 37, is running with Eagle as part of a slate representing the Community Education Task Force.
Hall, who has children in a charter school, said that he believes the district needs to put more focus on early literacy programs to make sure students have mastered basic skills before they advance to the next grade level.
Hall also believes the district needs to do a better job of recruiting minority teachers.
Mia Hodgins: Republican Party line
This is Hodgins' second run for a seat on the city school board. One of Hodgins' main focuses is the district's budget and figuring out how to curtail rising expenses and better allocate resources to academic programs.
Hodgins, 33, also would like to see resources directed toward arts activities and sports, which she believes will help keep students in school.
Candice Lucas: Independence and Working Families lines
Lucas, who received the Democratic Party nomination but did not earn a spot on the party line for the general election, has been involved with the district for many years as a parent.
In roles such as president of the district's parent council, Lucas, 42, has had an opportunity to work with and build relationships with school leaders, as well as identify the key issues affecting the system. One of those is meaningful parent involvement.
Lori Thomas: Green Party line
Thomas, 56, who is running on the Green Party line, is a retired teacher who has been an advocate for issues in the city schools.
Thomas believes the district needs to shift its approach to target the whole child, meeting students' social and emotional needs as well as academic ones.
Van White (incumbent): Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines
Since he joined the school board in 2007, White, 51, has been an advocate for strengthening the district's most effective programs, including a push to replicate School of the Arts.
Most recently, he has been pushing a plan he calls "The Revolution," which includes key points such as hiring reading teachers in schools, smaller class sizes and a longer school year.