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School Election Move Could Be Made By February

Hillsborough district one of only two in the county, 73 in state not to move to November this year.

The Hillsborough Board of Education may have until the second week of February to decide whether to switch the election of board members from April to November.

Board member Gregory Gillette asked the administration at Monday’s board meeting to find out the deadline for a decision to change the election.

Gillette said he believed the board had until the week of Feb. 10 to make a decision. The district must notify the county clerk 60 days before the April election date if it intends to move the balloting to the November general election.

The school board has scheduled meetings on Jan. 28 and Feb. 11.

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.

If the election is held in November, then the board would hold its reorganization meeting in the first week of January. The November school board election would be in a separate section of the general election ballot and remain non-partisan, free of political party labels. And though the budget will not be up for a vote, the board would still be required to hold public hearings on the spending plan in the spring.

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