Fourteen New Jersey school districts conducted elections on Tuesday, April 25, a dramatic change from seven years ago, when statute required all school elections to take place in the spring.
In 13 of the districts, voters acted on proposed school budgets. Twelve of the 13 proposed budgets were approved.
Newark, the 14th district holding elections on Tuesday, is state-operated. Voters there elect members of the school board and do not act on a proposed budget.
Base Budgets In Garfield, Bergen County, voters rejected the budget as well as an additional tax levy question.
The districts in which voters approved proposed budgets were Bergen County – Cliffside Park, Fairview, Hackensack, and Oakland; Essex County – Irvington; Hudson County – North Bergen, and Weehawken; Middlesex County – New Brunswick; Monmouth County – Asbury Park, and Neptune Township; Passaic County – Passaic City, and Totowa.
Tax Levy Question
Garfield – Rejected
The district sought voter approval to raise $3,442,000 in additional funds to reinstate staff, including 19 elementary school teachers; 7 middle school teachers; and 10 other staff members; and to restore health benefits for paraprofessionals.
Weehawken – Approved
Improvements and upgrades to two elementary schools and Weehawken High School, including security and safety upgrades; heating and lighting system upgrades; and upgrades to science classrooms/laboratories at the high school.
Total Project Costs — $16,000,000
State Funds – $6,310,145
Move to November Elections New Jersey law was changed in 2012 to permit boards of education or municipalities to move their school elections from April to November. Districts with November elections do not need voter approval of budgets within the state’s tax levy cap.
Currently, 526 school districts elect school board members in November, according to the state Department of Education. In addition, there are 15 local boards whose members are appointed by the community’s mayor. The state also has 29 county vocational and county special services school districts, whose school board members are appointed by the county boards of chosen freeholders. In some counties, the vocational and special services districts are governed by the same board of education.