There are many reasons to consider moving school board elections (from April to November) in a favorable light--chief among them wider voter participation from a much higher turnout. In addition, there would be a reduction in the costs of holding a separate school board election.
There are also some negatives, as expressed by those who are concerned about even more politicization of the local school board races--such as partisan politics playing an even larger role in what is, theoretically, a non-partisan race, with candidates aligning themselves with one or another candidate of a given political party. Also, candidates for municipal, county, or state office are not precluded from endorsing a school board candidate, which some feel could unduly influence voters. The state has some provided additional notes that are meant to assuage concerns about partisan politics--here is some info from the North Jersey News website:
The state Education Department on Thursday addressed a range of questions about the new process. It specified that:
- School elections will be on a separate section of the ballot. School board candidates will not be aligned with any political party or partisan candidates.
- A municipal governing body has independent authority to move the school election to November.
- A district that changes adopts a November vote can revert to April, but only after four years.
- A district that bypasses a budget referendum must still have public hearings on spending.
*Here is another link to the "School Notes" page New Jersey School Boards Association (which supports the move):
The members of the League of Women Voters of Plainfield (an organization to which I belong) will be discussing the pros and cons of moving the school board elections as well, although we have not taken a formal position. I have been reading some of the articles and comments posted on some of the other blogs--please let me know your thoughts on the "pros" and "cons" of this legislation.
*These links are courtesy of the NJCU Library Blog, which has more links on this issue.