TRENTON—The New Jersey School Boards Association announced today that it will support legislation that would give local school districts the option to move school board member elections from April to November, while eliminating the annual vote on proposed school budgets that are at or below the state’s 2-percent tax levy cap.
Based on the permissive nature of the bill and NJSBA’s long-time support of eliminating the vote on proposed school budgets that are within cap, the Association planned to testify in favor of the proposal at an Assembly committee hearing this afternoon, according to Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director.
“The interests of taxpayers are well represented in the school budget development process,” explained Bilik. “Proposed budgets undergo thorough review by the state Department of Education to ensure efficiency, and they are controlled by the same 2-percent tax levy cap as are municipal and county budgets, which are not presented to voters.
“This bill would give school districts the ability to eliminate an exercise that is often frustrating and of little value: placing budgets that are already at or below cap on the ballot, where they can face misplaced voter dissatisfaction with municipal, state or even federal spending.”
She continued, “Many school boards have expressed apprehension about mixing the non-partisan school board member elections with the partisan November General Election. That’s a legitimate concern. This bill, however, would leave the decision to the local board of education, allowing it to weigh concerns about partisan elections with factors such as voter participation and whether there is a need for the district to continue holding referendums on proposed budgets already controlled by the tax levy cap.”
Under A-4394/S-3148, communities could use one of three options to change the school election date to November and eliminate the annual vote on the base budget:
- A resolution by the local board of education.
- A resolution by the municipal governing body.
- Voter referendum through a petition signed by at least 15 percent of voters who participated in the previous general election held for members of the General Assembly.
While NJSBA supports the bill, it will seek amendment to eliminate the provision giving municipal governing bodies the authority to unilaterally change the school election date. With the NJSBA-sought change, the bill would provide two options for a community to move school elections to November: local board of education resolution, or voter referendum.
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