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South Orange Declines Moving Board of Education Elections in 2012

The BOT says its unfair to move it during an election cycle, plus Board of School Estimates still needs to be worked out.

On Wednesday, the South Orange Board of Trustees (BOT) declined the opportunity to join their Maplewood counterparts in moving the Board of Education elections to November for 2012. 

The BOT decided that it wasn’t a good time to move the elections with the current election cycle already started.  In addition, the BOT’s preference was for the BOE to move the elections by their own resolution, not forced by the municipalities.

According to the New Jersey School Boards Association, since Gov. Chris Christie signed Assembly Bill No. 4394, allowing municipalities to move their Board of Education elections from May to November, into law on Jan. 17, more than 40 percent of New Jersey school boards with April budget and board-member elections have made the switch to November elections.

The South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education is not covered by the law due to the peculiar configuration of the district which covers two towns but predates the separation of Maplewood from South Orange, another bill is being fast-tracked through the legislature to allow the new law to apply to South Orange-Maplewood.

Last week, Maplewood’s Township Committee passed a resolution approving the move of the elections to November.  However, when the BOE met later that week, they rejected the move for 2012, but signaled their support for the bill and the fact that it would allow them to move their elections in 2013, if they decide to do so.

Trustee Mark Rosner said that he wanted to see a sample ballot from the county clerk before deciding.  He voiced his concerns that the BOE elections could get lost on a crowded ballot.

"Since the Board of Education election is every single year, you can have an election year with the Presidential election, like this year, and Congress is up for election and whoever else is up, could be the U.S. Senate, you have multiple elections and our voting machines don't have enough room on the ballots," said Rosner.

Rosner has suggested to the county that they invest in video ballot machines that would cycle through screens as they vote.

The trustees also agreed that the decision should be left to the BOE and it wasn't right of them to vote for something that they have signaled they don't want for 2012.

"For us to do this, for this year, we would essentially be slapping the face of the Board of Ed who said that they didn't want to do something this year," said Trustee Michael Goldberg.  "It really should be their decision, so we should really give them the oppurtunity to do the right thing."

Maplewood Township Committeeman Jerry Ryan, who spoke during the public comments section, told Patch after the meeting that he felt the two municipalities were on the same page overall.

"It sounds like we agree on everything except the time," said Ryan.  "If we move it in 2013, instead of 2012, that's fine.  As long as we move it."

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