Bill may change school elections

No vote may be needed to pass a school district budget again if the Voorhees School District decides it wants to move its election to November.

Last week, Gov. Christie signed legislation that would allow school board elections to be moved to November.

Christie initially proposed the legislation in May 2010 and garnered bipartisan support in the legislature. His reasons for signing the bill were to encourage a higher voter turnout and to help school districts save money by combining school elections with the general election.

“This bipartisan tool kit bill finally gives real pathways for school boards or voters to move district elections in November, providing the bright prospect for both local government savings and increased voter participation in the process,” Christie said.

“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.”

For the Voorhees School District, the cost savings could be in the thousands.

The new law states the county and the board of education would enter into an agreement, with the school district held responsible for any increased cost associated with the election.

To move the school district election to November in Voorhees, either the board of education or the township committee would need to adopt a resolution, or voters would have to approve a ballot question in the next November election.

Another major shift for the school district, should they vote to move the election, would eliminate the need for residents to vote on the school budget if it remained under the state mandated cap. The school district is still required to submit its budget to the commissioner of education for approval, however.

A budget that exceeds the 2-percent cap would be presented to voters in the November election, allowing residents to approve or deny a budget with extra spending.

If a budget above the cap were approved, the board would submit its final budget to the DOE. If the budget that exceeds the cap were rejected, the district’s temporary budget would serve as its final budget for the year.

Changing the election is a possibility for the school district this year, as the bill gives no deadline for changing the election date.