Budgets were overwhelmingly supported in the 16 New Jersey school districts that held school budget elections yesterday, as the spending plans were approved in 15 of the 16 districts. North Bergen saw its school budget defeated.

In the School District of the Chathams, however, where a $24.8 million school renovation project was also on the ballot, the bond issue referendum to support the construction project was rejected.

A total of 17 districts went to the polls on Tuesday, April 21, and selected members of their local school boards. All but Newark, which is a state-controlled district, also faced a budget question.

Smallest Number of Spring School Elections The handful of elections was the smallest number for spring school elections on record. Until 2012, all of New Jersey’s school districts with elected boards of education (more than 550) held their annual elections in April. Legislation enacted that year permitted communities to move their school board elections to the General Election date in November. In the districts that did so, the proposed school budget is not placed on the ballot if it is within the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap.

In 2012, 468 school districts moved their elections to November. The number increased to 501 and 515 in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In 2015, 521 districts will conduct November elections.
Under the 2012 legislation, communities that move their school election to November may switch back to an April election date after four years.

The election of school board members, whether it takes place in April or November, is significant for the community and its education program, according to NJSBA leaders.

“The local board of education represents the community in setting goals and policies that guide public schools and the programs and services they provide. The goal of the board is always to do what’s best for students,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “The board also negotiates collective bargaining agreements with employees, and hires and evaluates the superintendent who leads the district.”

Results of the budget vote in the 16 districts were as follows:

  • Bergen County Cliffside Park; Fairview; Garfield; Hackensack; Oakland; Palisades Park. ALL APPROVED
  • Cumberland County Bridgeton APPROVED
  • Essex County Irvington APPROVED
  • Hudson County North Bergen REJECTED and Weehawken APPROVED
  • Middlesex County New Brunswick APPROVED
  • Monmouth County Neptune APPROVED
  • Morris County School District of the Chathams and Riverdale BOTH APPROVED
  • Passaic County Passaic and Totowa BOTH APPROVED
  • Bond Referendum School District of the Chathams, in Morris County. REJECTED

Voters were asked to approve a $24.8 million renovation and alteration project, covering construction at four schools, and improvements to Cougar Field. If approved, the project would have been eligible for state debt service aid in the amount of $2.9 million.