For the first time on Tuesday, voters will elect their local school board members in November rather than April.
School board officials are waiting to see whether moving the election to the November general election will have the desired effect of improving voter turnout, or if people will pay attention only to the high-profile presidential race.
“There is a concern that with so many races this year the school boards would be overwhelmed on the ballots,” New Jersey School Boards Association spokesman Frank Belluscio cq said. “But we believe that people who are interested will vote.”
One concern has been the placement of candidates on the ballots. School board elections are non-partisan, and were to be listed separated from the other elections.
The move to November also means voters do not get to vote on local school budgets unless the local school board wants to exceed the state cap on expenses. Only three districts statewide--Delran in Burlington County, Farmingdale in Monmouth County and Verona in Essex County--have budget cap questions on their ballot, according to NJSBA data.
Voters in Sea Isle City, which closed its small school and now sends all students to Ocean City, are being asked to approve reducing the size of their school board from nine members to five.
Upper Deerfield Township in Cumberland County is asking to reduce its board from nine members to seven.
The decision to move the election to November is voluntary, and three local school districts, Atlantic City, Hammonton and Bridgeton, did opt to keep their elections in April this year. Statewide, 86 percent of the state’s elected school boards, or 468 of the 541 boards, will hold elections Tuesday.
There was a slight drop off in the number of candidates who filed to run this year, which Belluscio said may have been caused by the early deadline to file in June. He said they hope the state Legislature will revise the new law to move the deadline to late summer or early September.