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Laura Lab Secures Sole Seat on School Board; Budget Approved

Incumbent board member and vice president wins re-election

The West Board of Education will welcome back a familiar face.

Incumbent Laura Lab appears to have clinched the one open seat on the school board, winning re-election for another three-year term and beating out opponent Mark Meyerowitz.

"I'm very happy that the electorate in West Orange has chosen me to continue to serve on the board of education," said Lab, as she celebrated with her supporters at Essex House Wednesday night. "I really do care a lot about education and I really think it's critical somebody who cares about education is on the board."

Lab won with 59 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results Wednesday night from the Essex County Clerk's office. The township clerk's office unofficially reported Lab won with 2,123 votes, trumping Meyerowitz, who received 1,550 votes. These results are not official and exclude absentee votes.

West Orange Superintendent of Schools Anthony Cavanna said, "it was fantastic" to have Lab continue on the board.

"She's an asset to the school district and her experience on the board will pay off to the children in West Orange," he said.

Mayor Robert Parisi said he was "happy" for Laura. "She's a dedicated public servant," he said. 

The school district's proposed $132.4 million operating budget was also approved Wednesday night. School officials appeared relieved and had feared the budget could face further cuts if it was voted down and sent to the township council.

According to unofficial returns from the township clerk, the school budget was approved with 2,111 "yes" votes to 1,656 "no" votes.

"I'm thrilled," said West Orange President Megan Brill. "We saw what the school district needed and we came up with the a budget that came well under cap."

With the budget approved, Lab said she already plans to begin work, "Im back on the job tomorrow."

Cavanna said once the vote is certified by the township clerk, the school district will implement the budget July 1. "We have roofs to fix, boilers to repair, textbooks to buy," he said.

Supporters said Lab's trail of experience is what garnered the majority vote. 

"She's been extremely active in education issues for many years in our town," said Tony Edelstein, 48, of West Orange. "She's a tireless worker." 

Meyerowitz also congratulated Lab on her apparent win. 

"It's a powerful position and she should use her power carefully," he said. "It doesn't just affect the 6,800 kids at the schools, it affects the 40,000 people that live in the entire town." 

Meyerowitz, a registered investment advisor, said he plans to continue to build his business and isn't sure if he'll run for public office again. He previously ran twice for state assembly. 

Residents flocked to the polling places between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday to cast their votes, but school officials say they were disappointed with the low turnout. 

"I really wish the West Orange community would understand this is a great thing that we do and that this is a great right that we have," said Brill. 

She said voter turnout was low because it was an off year and the mayor is not up for re-election.

Elections officials at the polls reported voter participation was down by 50 percent. The township clerk reported that 12 percent of registered voters cast ballots Wednesday.

[Editor's note: This article was first published April 27 at 10:41 p.m.]

Lori April 29, 2011 at 11:41 AM
Following quoted information is copied & pasted from the 'West Orange Board of Education School Budget Facts 2011 -2012' found on the BofE's website (shortened link provided) http://bit.ly/kccRmj (I still see no evidence that the passing of the school budget is costing taxpayers more money. If I am wrong and the BoE worded the facts in a crafty way to get the budget passed, may it come out in public knowledge and the news. However, I don't believe that's the case and I'm sticking with this information, thank you! Lori W.) "The school budget that residents will be voting on is $114,498,112. This amount is $1,008,000 less than last year’s tax levy." "The projected tax impact on the average single family home after the revaluation is expected to be a reduction of $99.07." "How does West Orange compare to surrounding towns? The $1,008,000 decrease reflects a .80% reduction in the tax levy, while surrounding towns show increases. Glen Ridge, Verona, South Orange/Maplewood, Cedar Grove, Nutley, Essex Fells, and Roseland all had 2% tax levy increases. Livingston had a 1.53% tax levy increase, as well as Millburn with a 1.35% tax levy increase." "The budget presented is $4,579,016 below the State allowable cap for West Orange."
Cynthia Cumming April 29, 2011 at 12:36 PM
Thanks for the info about the other towns...
m. margot April 29, 2011 at 11:00 PM
I've decided to stop reading. I cannot believe such mean spirited people share this wonderful township with me. Instead of publically bashing each other in this inappropriate way, why not research ways to assist the board of education members in improving and reclaiming our status as an outstanding school instead of one where kids are often on the streets or riding around during classroom time instead of learning. Maybe we should be asking how is the board communicating with our parents to encourage and assist our children towards excellence. margot
Michael May 02, 2011 at 02:02 PM
they always put out the first budget knowing it wont pass, to later pass the one they really wanted so it looks like they conceded something. why would you include Essex Fells, they have 1 school actually in the town, and share the Jr. and High Schools with neighboring towns?? Roseland and Cedar Grove had the lowest taxes in Essex county for decades and the new budget is reflecting them having to catch up since the populations grew substantially. The only comparison I could think of is that West Orange does have Essex Fells type tax rates without the big mansions.
Karen Yi May 03, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Hi everyone, let's please keep personal insults out of the comments section. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but we need to keep this forum a space where people can express themselves freely and safely. Thanks all. -Karen Yi

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