N.J. School Boards Use Law to Change Election Dates

January 21, 2012

At least a dozen towns will elect their school board members in November under a law signed last week that aims to boost voter turnout for the elections, which typically take place in April.

School boards may vote to switch the date of the election, but are not required to do so. If they switch, residents will no longer vote on local school budgets, unless the budgets exceed the 2 percent tax levy increase cap.

School boards’ interest in shifting the election date has already exceeded expectations, said Frank Belluscio, a spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association.

"We count 17 so far," he said. "There is far greater interest in the election change than anticipated, and we expect additional boards to take action (this) week."

Some have criticized the law for making the school board elections even more hectic. It’s likely some elections will still be held in April, Belluscio said.

The Elizabeth school board has voted to switch the date of its election to reduce costs and increase voter turnout, board member Francisco Gonzalez said.

"Wider participation in the electoral process is something that we believe in and will continue to endorse," he said. "Allowing greater participation for all elected positions benefits everyone in the community."

The school board in Lambertville also voted to move its election.