Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Friday, January 20, 2012

Will Plainfield BOE go for November election, budget vote?

School Board elections may now be held in November.
Gov. Christie and the Legislature have made things interesting for the Plainfield Board of Education.

Effective immediately and simply by adopting a resolution, the Board of Ed can move the school election and budget vote to the November general election date, under the terms of a bill signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Chris Christie (see here). Plainfield Assemblyman Jerry Green was a sponsor of the bill.

The one gotcha is that the date can only be switched if the next proposed budget stays within the state's 2% cap.

In one fell swoop the longstanding complaint that school boards are elected by a tiny minority of eligible voters would be erased -- especially in a year when President Obama is standing for re-election and a huge turnout is guaranteed.

Four Board of Ed seats will be up whether the election takes place on April 17 or November 6. Three-year terms for Keisha Edwards (who is filling out the term of Pat Barksdale, who resigned), Brenda Gilbert and Lisa Logan Leach are up this year. The fourth seat is left open by the forced resignation of Rasheed Abdul-Haqq under a draconian new law sponsored by Assemblyman Jerry Green.

Though the Board solicited public interest in filling Abdul-Haqq's seat, and scheduled interviews for this past Tuesday, no decision to appoint someone to the vacancy has been made public yet. Such an appointee would serve until the 2012 election (see NJ law on vacancies here), and could run for a full term as an 'incumbent' even if length of service is measured in weeks and not years.

Moving the election and budget vote to November has the attraction of taking away the uncertainty about outcomes on budget voting by eliminating completely the vote on a budget that is within the state cap.

Plainfield voters last defeated the school budget for 2010-11, throwing the resolution into the laps of the City Council.

Such a scenario would disappear if the election is moved to November (providing it is kept under the cap).

Moving the election to November would involve a commitment of four years, after which the Board of Ed could move back to April if it wished by a simple resolution.

However, during the four years for a November election, if a budget were submitted above the cap, it would run as a standalone public question with no mechanism for review in case of defeat. A defeat would be a defeat, period.

Whether or not expiring non-Grand Slam members choose to run again, Grand Slam member Alex Edache made it clear at last year's reorganization that the Grand Slam folks mean to mount another slate for 2012. I haven't heard a word about any interest, meaning perhaps the Grand Slam folks will be uncontested.

The more time passes, the more golden the days under Dr. Larry Leverett appear -- both in Board transparency and in his and the Board's genuinely welcoming embrace of all stakeholders.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

This BOE have already mad their decision behind closed doors. The person that will be appointed to fill Rashid Abdul-Houck seat will be Susan Pfiffer. i probably spelled her name wrong. No open communication from the stike out team like they promised. They needed another puppet over there. I hope Susan will have her own mind.

olddoc said...

I doubt that this BOE would risk a November election. November ele3ctions would be better for "transparency" besides the larger turnout. There would be more open indication of political faction support which is now denied.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone on the board of ed have a college degree?

Maria Pellum, Plainfield Resident said...

Hi Dan,

There was actually an appointment on Tuesday, and yes, your reader before had the right person. Dr. Susan Phifer was the elected one. Dr. Phifer did some kind of leadership intership back on 2007 (08?) at the middle schools. She was also, at some point, the VP of PEP. I hope Dr. Phifer comes ready to work hard to help straighten the district as there is a lot of work ahead of us before anyone can say "Victory"! I thought the district was going to do a "Welcome to the BOE" thing at the district's website, maybe I should? :-)

Anonymous said...

11:10; this is the 1st Board inwhich all the members not only have college degrees but 4 have Masters and one has a PhD.

What ya think about that one?

Dan said...

@ 6:19 PM: 'first board' covers a very looonnnggg time? How do you know it's never been the situation before?

Do you mean since you've been keeping trac? How long is that?

Anonymous said...

For at least the past 10 years. Haven't been here that long to look into further. The point is, however, this Board are all degreed.

Anonymous said...

To 6:19pm - Thank you for your information. I have one word -