NJSB press release
Trenton, Oct. 29 -- Voters headed to the polls next week will choose new school board candidates in 501 New Jersey school districts, as the total number of New Jersey districts opting for November school board elections continues to increase, the New Jersey School Boards Association reported today.
A total of 1,853 candidates are running for election to school boards, with 1,501 total seats up for grabs. Some 34 communities decided this year to move their annual school elections to November, leaving only 40 going to the polls in April.
Paterson, in Passaic County , was the most recent to do so, with the Paterson Public Schools voting at a special meeting in September to approve a resolution to change the date of its school board election from April to November next year.
In January 2012, a new law allowed local school boards to move annual elections from April to November, a move billed as a way to increase participation in school board elections. Along with the change in voting date, boards holding November elections do not submit their school budgets to voters, as long as the spending plan remains at or below the state’s 2-percent tax levy cap.
Candidate Rate Level But while more people may vote in November, in 2012 the rate of people running for board of education fell slightly. Last year, the first since the change, there was an average of 1.25 candidates running for each board seat, down from 1.44 candidates per seat the previous April.
For the current crop of school board races, the rate of competition for those seats is almost identical to last year’s rate. Approximately 1.23 candidates are running for each open seat next week, according to data gathered from the 21 counties.
That ratio of candidates per vacant seat is the lowest since 1999, when each vacancy also had 1.23 candidates. But while some school boards have open seats with no candidates listed on the ballot to run, often write-in candidates emerge to fill them.
One likely reason for the number of candidates may be the early filing deadline for races. School board candidates are currently required to hand in their nominating petitions a full five months before the election.
A bill currently pending in the Legislature would move that filing deadline closer to the General Election, allowing candidates to submit their paperwork in July instead of June. S-2086, sponsored by Sen. Jim Whelan, was approved by the Senate Education Committee June 6. NJSBA supports the measure.
The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of 585 local boards of education and includes 75 charter school associate members. NJSBA provides training, advocacy and support to advance public education and promote the achievement of all students through effective governance.