Greenwald: More than 400 Elected School Districts Embrace November School Election Law; Move School Elections from April to November

More than 76 percent of Elected School Districts Have Made the Move

(TRENTON) – Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald on Friday welcomed news that more than 400 elected school districts in the state have chosen to adopt the new law he sponsored and move their school elections from April to November to coincide with the general election.

“I’m glad that such a large majority of elected school districts across the state are taking advantage of this law and opting to move their school elections to November,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “This is a smart option that will save taxpayers and municipalities the cost of another election, which can cost millions to organize, and bring more people to the polls to vote.”

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.

As of Friday afternoon, more than 76 percent – or 410 of the 538 elected school boards in New Jersey – have now opted for November elections, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association.

“School elections are important, yet they suffer from low voter turnout. One media report noted that school elections in New Jersey cost between $7 and $ 9 million to organize, but draw just 10 to 15 percent of registered voters to the poll,” said Greenwald. “In a time when municipalities are forced to do more with less, this law is a practical way to save taxpayer money, and get more people involved in the selection of school board members who will be making decisions on the education of our children.”

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.