Voters Slam School Spending Plans

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STATE – For the first time since 1976, New Jersey voters rejected more than half of the budgets on the ballot in yesterday’s school election.

Only nine of 23 Middlesex County school budgets appeared to pass muster with voters, according to the unofficial count. Twelve of 19 in Union County won approval. In both counties, there were instances where the vote was close enough that absentee or provisional ballots could swing the result.

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In Middlesex County, voters passed the budgets in Carteret, Cranbury, Highland Park, Metuchen, North Brunswick, Piscataway, West Windsor/Plainsboro, South Brunswick and South River, according to unofficial totals from the county clerk’s office.

In Union County, voters approved budgets for Clark, Cranford, Garwood, Hillside, Mountainside, Rahway, Roselle, Roselle Park, Springfield, Union, and Westfield, according to unofficial totals from the county clerk’s office.

New Brunswick and Summit allow the board of school estimate to decide on the budget, rather than sending it for a public vote.

In the communities where the school budget was rejected, school boards must submit them for municipal review. The local governing body has until May 19 to reach a decision on the 2010-11 school tax levy.

This year’s budgeting process has been especially bleak for local officials. School districts were hit with a double whammy when Gov. Chris Christie forced them to spend money held in surplus accounts in lieu of promised state aid payments to plug a shortfall in the current fiscal year state budget, then drastically reduced state aid for the 2010-11 school year. Most districts were planning to reduce staff and services while raising taxes to offset the lost money.

Voters also elected members to their local school boards Tuesday. Here are the winners of the contested elections, according to unofficial vote totals:

  • East Brunswick: Holly Howard, Curt Philipczak, Brad Cohen
  • Edison: Veena Iyer, Theresa Ward, Lori Bonderowitz
  • Elizabeth: Carlos Trujillo, Marie Munn, John Donoso
  • Fanwood: Amy Winkler
  • Garwood: John Sullivan, Brendan McDermott, Susan Groning
  • Helmetta/Spotswood: Jerry Hook, John Lavelle
  • Linden: Susan Hudak, Lisa Ormon, Dawn Beviano
  • Metuchen: Jonathan Lifton, Benjamin Small, Rosemary de Vries Schifano
  • Middlesex: Justin Panzanaro, James Green Jr., Glenn Dickey
  • Monroe: Ira Tessler, Louis Masters, Lewis Kaufman
  • Mountainside: Carmine Venes, James Ruban, Jr., Christopher Minks
  • New Providence: Susan Vogel, David Hasenkopf
  • Old Bridge: Frank Piccillo, Andrew Gonzalez, Eugene Donofrio
  • Piscataway: Russel Stoddard, Thomas Mosier, Catherine Sucher Greeley
  • Plainfield: Wilma Campbell, Renata Hernandez, Rasheed Abdul-Haqq (full term); Keisha Edwards (unexpired term)
  • Plainsboro: Ellen Walsh
  • Rahway: Roy Eastman, Justin Tupik, Richard Trocciola
  • Roselle: Carla Walker, Celeste Sitarski, Reginald Atkins
  • Sayreville: Daniel Balka, Helen Bruno-Racciua, Thomas Biesiada
  • South Brunswick: Harry Delgado, Deborah Taylor, Daniel Boyle
  • South River: Karl Nielsen, Vera Silva-Adelino, Cynthia Urbanik
  • Union: Richard Galante, Versie McNeil, Linda Gaglione
  • West Windsor: Hemant Maranthe, Robert Johnson
  • Westfield: Ginny Leiz, Julia Walker, Mitchell Slater
  • Woodbridge: Brian Small, Jonathan Triebwasser, John Golden

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1 comment for “Voters Slam School Spending Plans

  1. aem910
    April 21, 2010 at 11:25 am

    “In the communities where the school budget was rejected, school boards must submit them for municipal review. The local governing body has until May 19 to reach a decision on the 2010-11 school tax levy.”

    Wish this process was more thoroughly explained. Does the “local governing body” mean the city mayor (mayor’s office)? Does the local governing body have the power to actually make changes to the budget, or simply to recommend changes? What options does the local Board of Ed have once they receive these recommendations?

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