Groundswell of Approval for Moving School Board Elections to November

January 26, 2012

Yesterday there were 38 New Jersey school boards that had voted to move their elections to November. Today, just a week after passage of the new legislation, there are 56. Odds are the numbers will continue to increase as boards hold regular business meetings, debate the pros and cons, and pass the required resolution. (Coverage from NJ Spotlight and Trenton Timeshere’s a FAQ sheetfrom the DOE, which includes a sample resolution.)

Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, who sponsored the bill, said, “When we spend in the state of New Jersey anywhere from $7 to $9 million a year on school board elections, with voter turnout across the state at approximately 15 percent, I think we’re doing a disservice to the residents.”

According to the FAQ sheet from the DOE, boards interested in bypassing budget votes (as along as the budget is within the 2% cap) and moving school board member elections to November should pass the resolution by Feb. 17th. Municipalities have the same deadline, although there are no reports of any taking this action.

Elections in November are non-partisan, although it’s anyone’s guess how that will work out. Much depends on the culture of one’s particular town. Petitions for candidates would have a new deadline of the date of the June primary election. Current members would have their terms extended for eight months, until reorganization in January. Finally, unlike an April election, the school board will not incur base costs for the payment of board workers, voting machine transportation, overtime for county election personnel, rental of polling places, or other inherent costs of an election. These costs are already covered by either the state or the county as part of theexisting November general election.