>Spring’s No Break for Tuesday’s School Vote Holdouts
With most districts opting for move to November, a handful of voters head to polls
By John Mooney, April 16, 2012 in Education
The sudden move this winter by a vast majority of New Jersey school districts to November elections has drawn much of the public’s attention, but don’t tell that to a handful of districts still heading to the polls this Tuesday.
More than 70 districts have opted to stay with April elections — at least for this year — putting their budgets and school board members up for vote tomorrow, just as they have for decades before.
They are the clear exception to the rule this year, with more than 460 districts taking advantage of a new law that allowed the switch to November school board votes and the exemption of a budget vote altogether if property tax increases stay within state caps.
That leaves no districts at all voting on Tuesday from Burlington, Cape May and Union counties. Another six counties will each only have a single district go to the polls. Bergen County is one outlier, with 20 districts — almost a third of the county — still voting Tuesday. No other has more than eight.
Under the new law, a district moving the election to November cannot move it back to April for four years.
In Bergen County, Ridgewood, among the districts voting tomorrow, is trying to sell a $86 million budget that is within the 2 percent property tax cap after the board decided to hold back a switch for now. To move this year, “the notification to voters would have been really late in the process, and the board decided that it would have been better to just revisit it after this election,” said Daniel Fishbein, the district’s superintendent.
The odds are still good for the Ridgewood budget, where voters have approved 14 of the past 15 spending plans. But while a majority of his peers will sit the election week out, Fishbein has had extra work — and uncertainty — on his hands to get the word out to voters through newsletters, phone calls and the like.