By Desiree Taylor
School board elections were held in more than 70 districts today. Voters also cast ballots for school budgets. But the vast majority of districts, more than 460, will hold school elections Nov. 6, the date of the general election this year. The change from April to November school elections is permitted under a new state law.
Frank Belluscio of the New Jersey School Boards Association says districts that made the switch will likely save money. And he expects voter turnout will increase for the November school elections this year because of the presidential race. But opponents fear school board elections will take a back seat to this and other political races in November. And they don’t like the fact that voters won’t get a say regarding school budgets in November if they fall below the 2 percent property tax cap. This is the main reason why Lodi Board of Education President Joseph Licata says his district chose to keep school elections in April.
Twenty districts in Bergen County held elections today, the highest number of any county in the state. Belluscio says it’s likely that districts in Bergen County wanted more time to consider the change. And he says some districts also wanted to ensure voters get to actually vote on the school budget. But even those that don’t get to cast ballots on the budget will have the opportunity to voice their concerns during public hearings. And all school budgets will continue to be reviewed by county superintendents who have the option to request cuts or other changes.