The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Monday, January 30, 2012

Moving Plainfield's School Board Elections to November

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 the link to some FAQs from the Department of Education on the new law:

*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.

All best,


*These links are courtesy of the NJCU Library Blog, which has more links on this issue.


  1. Rebecca, as you are aware in many communities the "non-partisan" label on the BOE elections is a joke. Any election where there are slates of candidates has to reflect power partisan factions especially in a one political party town.

    Thus I feel that on the separate non party affiliation portion of the ballot the exposure to a greater electorate will be most beneficial.

  2. The Board elections need to be changed to November; this will eliminate the extra voting. By having it in November the turn out will be larger and candidates will have more time to address the needs of their voters. In the past so many voters didn't know who they are voting for because there isn't enough time for the candidates to introduce themselves. This turns the voting processing into more of a random picking than a thoughtful one.