SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Candidates running for school board faced off again Tuesday evening and fielded questions from students and educators.

The public forum kicked off at 6:30 p.m. at St. Phillip Monumental AME Church on Jefferson Street. Students and educators from across the county submitted their questions beforehand.

Board president candidates debating include:

  • Roger Moss
  • Todd Rhodes
  • Tye Whitely

District 5 candidates include:

  • Paul Smith
  • Theresa Watson

District 6 candidates include:

  • David Brigman

District 8 candidates include:

  • Tonya Howard-Hall

Watch the full forum in the two video players below.

One of the first topics addressed was how services can be more inclusive for immigrant students.

“These cultural activities are necessary because when we are allowing our students to see things in a holistic view, we’re allowing them to be better men and women in society,” said District 5 candidate Paul Smith.

“So understanding that we have to equip our teachers to meet these children where they are out,” said District 6 Incumbent David Bringman. “Try to get students to understand that they can open up to their teachers or their counselors.”

“Innovative ways for coping skills for our children. They need someplace where they can talk one on one,” said District 5 candidate Thresa Watson. “I know our district does not have enough social workers as well as school guidance counselors or counselors to implement programs as we speak.”

Candidates also expressed the importance of voting in this election. The last day to early vote is Friday, with election day on May 24.

Coco Papy, director of Public Policy and Communications at Deep Center is hosting the forum. Papy says voter turnout is important in school board races.

“Deep Center is just one of the many community organizations that partner with the district to meet the multifaceted needs of youth and adults. For us, having our community invested in the turnout of this race is crucial,” Papy said. “Beyond the practical tasks, effective school boards set a vision for a community’s young people, ensure transparency and accountability, and advance and create policies that impact youth and their families, as well as teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrative staff.”

Molly Lieberman, Loop It Up Savannah executive director, said the forum will showcase the broad impact the school board race has on local communities.

“The hosting organizations have a broad reach into a diversity of sub communities in Savannah and coming together to host this forum is our way of saying that this election really matters to us and to the communities that we serve,” Lieberman said. “We chose to use questions from students and educators for this forum because we believe that it is critical to always keep the ‘why’ at the center of the conversation. By centering issues that are important to our students and educators, we hope to create an opportunity for Savannah to focus on the heart of the matter and make voting a priority on May 24.”

“As advocates of the immigrant community of Chatham County, we are excited to hear what the candidates have to say about providing better services for immigrant students and their parents,” said Daniela Rodriguez, executive director for Migrant Equity Southeast. “During past similar forums, issues concerning Latino and immigrant students have not been mentioned at all. We are ready to see some change.”