NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – In a 4-0 vote, the New Providence Board of Education passed a resolution in to adopt Governor Chris Christie’s recent bill to move the election of board of education members to the first Tuesday in November, a change from the past practice of this election taking place on the third Tuesday in April, at a meeting Thursday night at New Providence High School.
William Dibble, David Hasenkopf, Ira Krauss and board president John Wolak were the four board of education members present at the meeting that voted for the resolution.
Christie’s bill was passed last week and has been a topic of discussion among every school board in New Jersey. The election can be moved to November if the majority of the voters vote in favor of it, the town council votes in favor of it or the board of education votes in favor of such a change.
Superintendent David Miceli said that Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education Chris Cerf urged school boards to act on this bill as soon as possible.
Miceli talked about some of the effects moving the election to November will have on the school budget, taxes and a few other aspects, as was in the language of the passed resolution.
The change eliminates the voter referendum on the proposed general tax levy that is at or below the currently mandated two percent statutory cap. In other words, if the school budget is passed under the cap, like it has been over the past couple of decades in New Providence according, the voters cannot make a decision on the tax levy within the budget, Miceli explained.
School Business Administrator James Testa mentioned that although the school budget is in its early stages, it does look like it will be under the mandated cap.
Although unlikely to happen, if the tax levy is above the mandated cap then it will be presented to the voters as a separate entity at the general election, which is also on the first Tuesday in November.
Miceli also mentioned that the board believes moving the elections to November will save tax payers money, citing that it will save about $15,000 in the school board budget because most of the responsibility for the voter polls and the work that goes into operating them will be covered by the township as part of the general election.
It is also a belief of the board of education that a greater turnout will ensue at the voter polls if the school board election is part of the general election. Dibble mentioned that in the past few years school board elections in New Providence have seen about a 20 percent turnout, while the general election has seen roughly a 40 percent turnout from citizens.
Other aspects of this bill require that the change remain in effect for a minimum of four years. Miceli said that if there are issues with the bill from citizens, the township or the board of education then the election date could change.
Also, members of the board of education whose terms would have expired by May 1, 2012 will continue to serve in their roll until the January 2013 re-organization meeting.
In other news, Miceli presented the violence, vandalism, substance abuse and harassment, intimidation and bullying report, which is now required twice annually by the state.
From Sept. 1, 2001 through Jan. 1, 2012 there have been three incidences of violence reported, one substance abuse incident reported and seven incidences of harassment, intimidation and bullying across the four New Providence school, according to Miceli.
Also, 28 incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying are currently being investigated. Punishment for these offenders can range from anything to detention to in and out of school suspension to counseling, if need be, Miceli said.
The superintendent also presented the enrollment numbers at the four schools which are current as of Dec. 31. There are 620 students at Allen W. Roberts School, 650 students at Salt Brook Elementary School, 353 students at New Providence Middle School and 598 students at New Providence High. There are also 38 students receiving education out of district.
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