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School Election Date May Get Moved in Hillsborough

Eighty-seven percent of state school districts hold their elections in November.

The may consider whether to keep its annual election in April or switch it to the November general election.

Board member Gregory Gillette said at Monday’s board meeting that the district may review its decision to keep the election in April after reviewing how other districts, who switched to the November election this year, fare in November.

This is the first year that New Jersey school districts had the option of switching the election from the third Tuesday in April to the first Tuesday in November when most other elections, from president to township committee, are held.

The law, signed by Gov. Chris Christie in January, eliminates the requirement for school boards to put their proposed school budgets on the ballot as long as the budget remains at or below the state's 2-percent levy cap.

The law was changed to promote more participation in the school election. Turnout in the school election statewide has averaged less than 15 percent, with 2010, at the depth of  the state’s fiscal crisis, an exception when turnout reached 26 percent.

According to the New Jersey School Boards Association, a total of 468 school districts moved to November elections, but 73, including Hillsborough, decided to keep the school election in April.

In February, the board voted 8-1 to keep the school election in April.

Fifteen Somerset County school districts will hold their elections in November. Only neighboring Montgomery kept the school election in April.

Gillette said that Superintendent of Schools Jorden Schiff has prepared a list of pros and cons of having the election in November.

“There may be more pros than cons,” Gillette said.

Gillette said the board will review Schiff’s list and see the first November elections in other school districts work.

The district must make a decision on the switch before the filing deadline for candidates early next year.

Midge Guerrera August 29, 2012 at 01:10 PM
From both a fiscal and a public involvement perspective it makes perfect sense to move the election to November. The voting booths and election board workers are in place. Candidates and political parties are encouraging folks to vote which doesn't really happen in April. Follow the lead of enlightened towns and move the School Board election to November! Hmmm, do we still vote for fire district representatives? When is that election??? I really don't know so hey if it's not November, we should move that one too.
dubious August 30, 2012 at 04:28 PM
If the election was moved to November, wouldn't that make it more politicized? Right now, candidates run unaffiliated with political parties (at least that's how it's supposed to be). But if the election was in November, would we be faced with a Republican slate and a Democratic slate? That would be unfortunate. The last thing our schools need is more politics. Also, would important school issues be drowned out by other political issues? Would things important to the schools and parents but lost in the increased political noise? And finally, in order to get noticed in November, would the cost of school board election campaigns go up, and if so, would we be faced with increased public AND SECRET campaign contributions? I would suspect that candidates who were not able to support such campaigns by themselves would have to see donations. And with that goes the unaffiliated nature of the BOE. On the other hand, it would remove the requirement for an annual budget vote, and there are many opinions on that as well.
watchful one August 31, 2012 at 01:17 AM
it wouldn't just "remove the requirement for an annual budget vote", it would prohibit an annual budget vote for any budget that stayed within the 2% tax levy increase.

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