Legislation introduced by Gov. Chris Christie in January allows districts to move school board and budget elections to November, combining it with the general election ticket.
If the Marlboro Board of Education decides to move the election, the school budget will not be up for public vote, provided it is under the state 2 percent increase cap.
"Once it is move from April to November, it stays there for four years and then it can go back," said district Business Administrator Cindy Barr-Rague.
Barr-Rague said last year's election cost $32,000, a portion of which is paid for by the Freehold Regional High School District who shares the election. This month, FRHSD voted to move its election to November, meaning Marlboro would have to pay the entire amount. Additional costs include about $7,000 of mandatory advertising of the election.
"We estimate it would be at least $50,000 if we keep the election in April," Barr-Rague said.
If the board does decide to move the election, the county is required to hold the election and will shoulder the costs, according to Barr-Rague. The district may have to pay additional costs, which she said would be minimal.
But at this weeks BOE workshop meeting, board members seem to be split on the decision.
Board member Cynthia Green said that although more than 200 districts in the state have made the switch, she believes combining the elections will further school board political party affiliation. Green said the Marlboro board has not been politicized, and should not start now.
"The potential for partisanship to contaminate school boards, and exponentially," Green said. "Whereas Marlboro board candidates have historically been, for the most part, individual, unaligned people who purely wanted to do right by our kids."
Board President Michael Lilonsky said the elections have the potential to be political regardless of when they are held, so saving $50,000 in the process makes sense.
"For me, how can I sit here and say lets spend $50,000 on it when maybe it it will be a little more political in November than it will be in April, there is no proof it it being one way or the other," Lilonsky said. "They are going to vote on the budget by re-electing people into the position."
Green said she also worries that the public would not be able to vote in a public forum on the school budgets. To save money, Green said, polling hours in an April election could be decreased.
Board member Joseph Waldman said he agrees with Green, and said moving the election would also result in extending the 3 year term of board members.
"Let the people of Marlboro make the choice," Waldman said.
Board member Edwin Madari said he has made phone calls to people around Marlboro, to try to "figure out the pulse" on the issue, and said everyone he spoke to was in favor of moving the election, due to low voter turnout during April elections.
Board Vice President Victoria Dean said she cannot see justifying spending the money when it can be saved, but said she wished more people would attend the board meetings in order to give board members a sense of what the public wants.
"That is what is sad to me, the apathy in our town," she said.
Board member BonnieSue Rosenwald agreed, saying the lack of an audience at the Feb. 7 meeting spoke volumes to the board, and that people could have come to speak out about losing the budget vote, but didn't.
"The same way I have always felt that people vote by not voting, the same way by people are telling us by not being here, 'We are giving you the right to make that decision for us.'" Rosenwald said. "I can't justify spending $50,000."
An action must be taken by the board by Feb. 17. The decision is left to Boards of Education as well as local governments, but voters are able to get the issue on the November ballot for a public vote with a petition.
The board will meet and vote on the issue on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Board of Education Building.
A video of the election discussion can be found at the board website.