Seattle Public School observers say this fall's school board election is critical for a district going through a lot of changes.

Alison Krupnick's children attended Adam Elementary in Ballard.

Capacity is the issue here, said Krupnick, an editor for ParentMap.

Portable classrooms take up space where her kids once played.

Crowded schools in the north end of the city is one of the biggest issues facing the school board.

Here in Washington State the achievement gap is a little bit worse than the national average, Krupnick said.

The difference in achievement between different ethnic groups is another tough issue facing the board.

If a child's not in school, a child's not learning, Melissa Westbrook said at Seattle Schools Community forum.

Westbrook, an educational blogger, said in the central and south end of the school district African American students are disciplined and expelled at higher rates than other students.

If they are disrupting learning in the classroom, something has to be done, but don't take them out of school, said Westbrook.

Three candidates are vying for each of two open school board positions. The open spots are for District Four and District Five, which includes Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill.

In District Four, which includes Queen Anne, Magnolia, and part of Ballard, the candidates are Sue Peters, Dale Estey and Dean McColgan. In District Five, which includes Capitol and Beacon Hills, Lacrese Green, Stephan Blanford and Olu Thomas are competing for two spots in this fall's general election.

Despite the challenges facing Seattle schools, Krupnick said increasing enrollment is a sign that parents have confidence in the district's future.

I think right now in Seattle that we are on the cusp of a new attitude of how we deal with our schools and how we work together to improve our schools, she said.

In the primary election, voters only cast their ballots for candidates in their geographical district, but in the general election voters citywide make the final decision.

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