Bonita Coleman-Potter, left, and Cheryl Atkinson

The two candidates vying for the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent’s job faced the community this evening, with Dr. Cheryl Atkinson and Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter fielding questions for two hours. The questions ranged from school funding, to bullying and technology.

Parents representing North Atlanta High School were among those asking the candidates tough questions. Jim Brown and Cynthia Briscoe Brown, co-presidents of North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools, asked the candidates how they planned to “balance and bring together the voices” within the Atlanta public schools system.

“Sometimes I think we feel the need to compete,” Cynthia Briscoe-Brown said. “We don’t see ourselves as adversaries with anyone in the system.”

Atkinson and Potter both answered questions from North Atlanta parents.

Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter after a question an answer session with parents and community leaders.

Coleman-Potter, who is Deputy Superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, said communication is key.

“We do run into the issues of sometimes of competing priorities, especially in fiscally strapped times,” she said. “We’re undergoing that now.”

Atkinson, superintendent of Lorain City Public Schools in Ohio, said a parent-advisory panel made up of representatives from all schools helps to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson met with parents and community leaders after a question an answer session.

“It helps to hear other parents talk about what needs to happen in their schools,” Atkinson said. “Amazingly I can walk into a meeting and think one thing is going to happen and when I come into a parent-advisory meeting they come up with better solutions.”

The Browns said both candidates impressed them.

“I think I probably can work with either one of these candidates,” Cynthia Briscoe Brown said.

Both candidates vying to become the permanent replacement for Superintendent Beverly Hall, who leaves the job this week. The Atlanta Board of Education appointed Erroll B. Davis Jr, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, as Hall’s interim replacement.