School Board shifts its election from April to November

By Douglas E. Hall
This Borough’s school district will not hold an election of Board members and will not put next year’s school budget up for a vote in April as it has in the past. With a vote of four of the fiver members present, the Board of Education unanimously approved on Monday, Feb. 20, plans to move the school election to November to be held as part of the General Election.
The abandonment of the spring school board election is expected to save the district several thousand dollars as last year’s school board election, conducted as a free-standing procedure on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in April, 2011, cost the district $9,400 in election-related expenses.

Moving the school board election to November will undoubtedly ser new records for voter participation in the selection of school board members, especially since this year’s November election will be a presidential election. The traditional April school elections of past years have generally generated very low voter turn out.

Because the election is being pushed forward seven months, board members, whose terms would be expiring in April, are now being extended to November. Affected by this extension are board Vice President Stephen Gross and board member Cristina Stefani-Rackow. Neither has indicated if they will seek re-election.

All school districts in the state had the option to shift to school board elections to November under a bill signed into law by Governor Christie Jan. 17. Under this law school budgets will no longer be put to a public vote, unless the budget exceeds the tax levy cap 2 percent. There can be waivers to this cap and Edgewater has two waivers that could allow the budget to rise above the 2 percent. These are a waiver for health benefits and one for expanded enrollment. The law also calls for the Board of Education and the County Board of Elections to enter into an agreement for the school board to pay any additional election costs attributed to the district’s participation in the General Election. Such costs, if any, are expected to be minimal.
This District’s board must complete a new budget by March 2 and submit it to the County Superintendent of Schools for review and approval. The new budget will be disclosed after approval by the superintendent.

The new law governing school elections does not affect special school elections for capital expenditures and bonded indebtedness, which may be conducted at several dates within the year.

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