The Marlboro Board of Education has essentially voted to not move its school board elections to November, ending in a 4-4 tie this week on the issue. But what does that mean for voters?
Gov. Chris Christie announced in January that school districts and municipalities now have the option to combine it's April school board and budget elections with November's general election, removing the annual referendum to vote on the school budget provided the budget is under the 2 percent cap.
This week, the Board of Education landed in a tie meaning the Marlboro election will stay put in its April slot.
Marlboro district's Business Administrator Cindy Barr-Rague said the election could cost the district almost $50,000 if held in April, as it will not be supplemented by the county or by the Freehold Regional High School District. If the board had voted to move the election, the county would incur base costs and the district would only be responsible for any additional fees.
According to the State Department of Education, boards or municipalities need to make a resolution regarding the law by today. Both the Board of Education and the Township Council have independent authority to move the school board election to November.
The permissive law was meant to help municipalities and districts save money as well as increase voter turnout, which is historically less than half of the turnout at a general election in November.
According to the State Department of Education, the board would lose the right to set polling hours as they do in April elections as well as extend the term of board members by eight months.
More than 200 districts have voted to move the election to November. Surrounding towns, such as Holmdel, Manalapan-Englishtown, Freehold, and Matawan-Aberdeen did vote to move the election to November. Princeton, however, did not.
According to Princeton Patch, board members in the district did not feel comfortable giving up the public's right to vote on the school district budget. Currently, the school budget is the only budget in a local municipality that is put up to a vote.
Marlboro elected board officials within the district felt similarly, acknowledging the cost, but saying the benefit of a public vote should not be removed.
Although moving the election would have removed the public right to vote on a budget under a two percent increase, school boards are still required by law to hold public budget hearings.
For districts that did vote to move the election, the State Department of Education says come November, those voters will see a separate ballot with the names of school board members, keeping school board members separate from local, state and national politicians.
Because Marlboro did not move the election, it has the option of doing so at a later date. Districts who did vote for a November school election must keep the election in November for at least four years.