The Edison council is re-visiting the idea of moving the school board elections to April. During the Council’s last two public meetings, the topic was actively discussed. A suggestion was first made by Council Member Diehl during the meeting held on November 13th. He was concerned about the level of political interference in the recent Board of Education (BOE) elections wh. He said, “all Board of Educations’ should operate as autonomous, separate boards, unaffiliated with any political party,”
Some Council member’s present at the meeting also condemned the political interference. New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA) opines that school elections should be nonpartisan. According to NJSBA, “under P.L. 2011, c.202, signed by Governor Christie in January 2012, communities could move the April annual school board member election to November and in the process eliminate the vote on the proposed budget that is at or below the tax levy cap.” Edison first took advantage of this law a few years ago, and the first November school board election was held in 2015. The same law also allows municipalities to move the election back to April after four election cycles. Elections in April mandate vote by residents on the Budget irrespective of the increase.
Based on the law, there are three ways a municipality can move the election to April – a. board of education can pass a resolution; b. Council can pass a resolution, or c. voters can approve a public question during the November General Election. When the Council decides to adopt such a resolution, they are expected to give adequate notice to the school board. Edison Council is expected to vote on moving the election during its December 11th Meeting. If the resolution passes, it is binding for four years.
Many residents, including BOE staff and union members, used the public comments section during the last Council meeting on November 25th.To dissuade the council from taking such a drastic step. They spoke about the harm to students and staff, and the uncertainty involved around the budget during April elections. They cited some programs that Edison lost because of state budget cuts and simultaneous failure to pass budget by the public.