Ray Pinney over at New Jersey School Boards Association predicts that “moving the school board member elections to November, along with eliminating the vote on the school budget (if the budget is at or below cap), will occur in the next legislative session.” The benefits: moving school budgets to the Fall buys times for the Legislature to “find a solution to the budget crisis”; voter turnout will increase; it’s cheaper than holding a separate April election. The deficits: “board members are concerned about the encroachment of party politics in a nonpartisan arena of education.”
The Record also chimes in, listing many of the same benefits as Pinney but painting NJEA as the loser if the bill passes through the Legislature:
Critics, including the New Jersey Education Association and state School Boards Association, worry that it will turn school board elections into partisan affairs. Officially, elected school boards are not affiliated with any political party. School board elections are supposed to focus on educational issues, not party dominance, these critics argue.
Maybe so. But currently, the teachers union appears to have more financial involvement than political parties do in school board elections, according to a report by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Statewide, about 9 percent of school board campaign contributions were from political parties, compared to 40 percent from donors with ties to the NJEA, the commission found in 2002.
You know where we stand.