Home Marlton News Evesham school district elections could have a fall flavor

Evesham school district elections could have a fall flavor

A new bill signed by Gov. Chris Christie yesterday may change the way you vote in school board elections for the next four years. Christie approved of a bill that will give school districts the option of moving their board of education elections to be held at the same time as the November general elections.

Additionally, the bill will allow all school budgets that fall within the 2 percent cap to be passed automatically, with no approval needed by township voters. A school board would have to present a “second question” for voter approval if the budget is proposed to exceed the 2 percent cap.

“After decades in Trenton of fruitlessly discussing the idea of moving school district elections to November, leaders in this state today have again demonstrated that we can get things done for the people of New Jersey when we work together,” Christie said. “This bipartisan tool kit bill finally gives real pathways for school boards or voters to move district elections to November, providing the bright prospect for both local government savings and increased voter participation in the process. With this legislation now law, I urge school board members and voters in every one of our districts to act as quickly as possible to take hold of these benefits.”

A school board would have to approve of a move through a resolution, according to state representatives.

It’s an interesting step, Board of Education President Sandy Student said. There have been several bills put forth by the state in the past to allow districts to move their elections to November, but this is by far the most advantageous.

Right off the bat, Student said it would save the district thousands of dollars. The school district pays between $23,000 and $25,000 each year to hold the elections, he said, and with the federal, state, county, municipal and school elections all being held on the same date it would spread that cost across several entities.

“We’ve had discussions and we’re going to put it on the agenda for this month’s meeting. We’ll save money if this is passed. Also, anytime that you can increase voter participation in the process, you’re doing the right thing. Less than 15 percent of the population votes in the school election, it’s not a full day of voting, and it costs the district $23,000 to $25,000,” Student said. “If we can save money we’re doing the right thing. I would imagine that most school districts would move this way, it makes sense to me.”

Residents don’t get to vote on the municipal or state budgets, so it’s always been interesting that they get to have the final say on a school budget, Student said.

“There are no losers so to speak in this scenario. You’ll have more participation by the citizens in the election, there is in all likelihood dramatic cost reductions, I can’t see a loser in this,” he said.

In 2008, Student said the township general elections had about an 80 percent participation rate, while the school board elections only had a 10 percent voter participation rate.

Additionally, any board of education member that will see their seat expire this April would have their term extended until January of 2013 if the election move is made.

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