Confident and justified in the claim that the school district is fiscally prudent and accountable, the Board of Education has gone on the record supporting the proposed state law to move school elections from April to November.
The law, sanctioned by Gov. Chris Christie, that has already passed House and Senate muster, allows for New Jersey’s municipalities to combine political and school elections. The move was proposed as a measure of fiscal austerity and improved voter turnout. Characteristically, board of education elections bring a startlingly low percentage of voters to the polls.
“The board wholeheartedly supports the legislation and governor on moving the elections for several reasons,” Middletown Schools Superintendent William George said. “First of all, with the legislation comes the (mandated) commitment from schools to formulate a fiscally responsible budget that comes in at or under the governor’s 2 percent (spending) cap. With that mandate, there would be no need for an annual budget vote. Our district is funded ‘under adequacy,’ in budget terms. So, that means we are operating within the cap already and following fiscal accountability initiatives. We’re in the process of building the new budget now.”
He added that district officials just underwent a review with the county superintendent ensure the district is on the right fiscal path. And it is, George said.
The desirable “funded under adequacy” status has been earned by very few districts in Monmouth County and the state of NJ; but, Middletown is one of them. Those that have earned the status are considered the most fiscally responsible — with all the checks and balances in place and under cap, George added.
Another argument in favor of the legislation, George said, is that school elections cost the district about $40,000, which would be saved with the move, not to mention an improved voter turnout.
School elections in November, along with the standard political elections and questions would only serve to elect new board members.
“We support that,” George said. “Being counted as among the truly fiscally responsible, it’s a win-win proposition for us.”