By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – “We are looking at a school board race like we have never seen before. There have never actually been three vacancies at the same time on the board,” said United Teachers of Dade vice president Antonio White.

Here are the candidates:

District three: Aventura, Miami Beach, downtown Miami, two teachers, both from Miami Beach High, Russ Rywell, and Lucia Baez-Geller.

District five: Doral, Miami Springs. The battle of vice mayors: Mara Zapata: experience as the vice mayor of Miami Springs and Christi Fraga, vice mayor of the city of Doral.

District nine: Pinecrest, Cutler Bay, Homestead. Dennis Moss term-limited Miami-Dade commissioner Luisa Santos, ice cream shop owner, tutor, active in the Democratic party.

The Miami-Dade school board has been a smooth functioning board overseeing the fourth largest district in the nation with Alberto Carvalho as its superintendent. The district has seen vast improvement in academics and innovative programs.

Carvalho, known as a strong manager, almost departed Miami for the New York City superintendent of schools’ job, but the board begged him to stay in Miami and gave him the salary and the control he needed.

There have also been recent hiccups, such as the start and stop of school schedule and questions about funds donated by a school district vendor to a Carvalho-sponsored foundation.

“Most people think the board works for the superintendent when it is actually the other way around. He works for the board and he has to work with new unique personalities that he has not had to work with before,” said White.

Political science professor Sean Foreman, from Barry University, said, “You already have a couple on there who are critical of the superintendent this school year.”

“So, I think there are calls for more accountability. You are going to see a tougher take from the school board members willing to take on the popular superintendent.”

Voters will be choosing from a field of educators, experienced politicians, and elected officials not short on agendas.

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