Nearly 42 percent of Elected School Districts Have Already Made Move
(TRENTON) – Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald on Tuesday hailed the success of the new law he sponsored to allow school districts to move their elections from April to November, noting that 225 of the state’s 538 elected school boards have already made the move.
“This idea has been talked about for decades but was always killed by inertia or the special interests,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “By bringing all the stakeholders to the table and forging a compromise, we passed this major reform measure in a matter of weeks. Now, my solution is proving to be a quick and astounding success, with nearly 42 percent of the state’s elected school boards already making the move to November school elections. This truly remarkable momentum benefits both taxpayers and democracy and shows we can get things done when we work together for sensible reform.”
After years of talk but no successful action on moving school elections from April to November, Greenwald introduced the bill (A-4394 from the 2010-11 legislative session) on Dec. 1. It received final legislative approval on Jan. 9 and became law on Jan. 17.
The state has 538 elected school boards, and 225 have now opted for November elections, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association. A list of the school districts making the change is attached to this e-mail.
“April school votes are a costly charade, but because of this law school boards are giving voters better control while saving property taxpayers the costs of yet another election,” said Greenwald. “The progress we have seen on this issue is a great example of what we can accomplish by bringing people together to find solutions, instead of relying on name-calling, divisiveness and 30-second sound bites.”
The law establishes two procedures for allowing a school district to move its annual school election to the November general election. The first procedure would be via a question presented to the voters in a November election. The referendum would be prompted by a petition signed by not less than 15 percent of the voters who voted in the district during the last preceding presidential election.
The second procedure allows the election to be moved to November upon the adoption of a resolution by the board of education or governing body of a municipality.
If the district’s annual school election is moved to November, then the district’s board members will be elected in November and take office at the beginning of January.
Additionally, if a district moves its election to November voters would not be required to vote on the district’s base budget, or a budget with a proposed tax levy that does not exceed the 2 percent levy cap. Any requests for spending above the district’s tax levy cap would be presented to the voters in November.
“Everyone realizes this law is long overdue common sense,” Greenwald said. “I’m pleased to see it embraced by so many districts and look forward to seeing it embraced by even more. We’re controlling government spending and property taxes and increasing public participation in our democracy. These are all good things.”