City Council could beat the Plainfield Board of Ed to punch in moving the District to November school board elections, which are allowed by a recently-signed new law.
Gov. Christie signed the bill (S-3148, see online here) into law on January 17, after it was passed by both houses of the Legislature during the lame duck session. The bill's signing was covered prominently by both the Ledger (see here) and NJ Spotlight (see here).
The law provides for the elections to be moved to the date of the November general election if the District's budget will not exceed the state's 2% increase cap. The commitment is for an initial four years.
Though the districts will have to enter an agreement with their respective counties to take up the extra expense to the county involved in managing the election process, it is sure to be less than a district spends on running its own standalone election. In Plainfield, turnouts can be lower than 1,000 voters, which makes a school board election pricey indeed.
In December, Maria alerted folks that the bill was going to be under consideration in the 'lame duck' session of the Legislature (see her post here), and last week I posed the question whether the Plainfield Board of Ed would be considering moving the election date (see my post here).
The Board of Ed subsequently scheduled a special meeting for January 24, advertising it on the District's website (see the agenda here, note there is no mention of changing the election date).
Wednesday afternoon I received notice of the NJ Department of Education's FAQ on the process of switching election dates, which can be done by a simple resolution of the Board of Education or the municipal governing body (the Plainfield City Council). You can see the FAQ, which includes a sample resolution for adoption, online here.
I wrote to Board of Ed President Renata Hernandez in an email yesterday, inquiring whether and when the board might be taking up discussion of the changes, to which she replied within a few minutes --
Mr. Damon - as was shared at the Special Meeting held this past Tuesday, a discussion concerning the subject matter noted herein will take place in public at the next scheduled board meeting 2/14; within the recently communicated deadline shared today via NJSB announcements.I must admit I do not recall it being mentioned, but I did not stay to the bitter end, thinking the presentation on 'reconfiguring' the schools was the important item and the rest were of a routine nature. (It is strange it would be discussed at all at a special meeting, as the law is quite clear that items not advertised cannot be brought up.)
There are some who think the Grand SLAM team's support for changing the election date is lukewarm at best, since it would guarantee a much larger turnout, thus making it harder to win the four seats that will be up. This year will no doubt be marked by an enormous Plainfield turnout as President Obama's re-election will be on the ballot.
But it just might not be the Grand SLAM team's call, as the City Council can pass the needed resolution before the Board of Ed even meets on the 14th. This was pointed out by Assemblyman Jerry Green in a post on his blog yesterday afternoon (see here).
The Council's agenda session is slated for February 6, and a resolution could be adopted at the business meeting on February 13, in time for the deadline notice to the County of February 17.
Plainfield residents who have been frustrated by the statutory 'Chinese wall' between the City Council and the Board of Ed may have a chance to see the Council weigh in decisively for once on a matter of concern to the taxpayers.
- Online Documents:
- "S3148: Moving school board elections to November"
- "FAQ on moving school board elections to November"
- Press coverage: "Ledger, 1/17/2012" | "NJSpotlight, 1/18/2012"
- Maria's Blog, 12/01/2011: "Blogger spotlights proposed law changing election dates"
- Plainfield Today, 01/20/2012: "Will Plainfield BOE go for November election?"
- Board of Ed: "Agenda: Special January 24, 2012 meeting" (PDF, no mention of elections)
- Jerry Green's Page, 01/26/2012: "My thoughts on moving the school board election"