Mayor Alberto G. Santos and the Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution at their regular meeting held on January 24, 2012 moving the school district’s annual election from April to the General Election date in November. The Kearny Board of Education also adopted a resolution authorizing the change of election date at their meeting held on January 17, 2012. Both resolutions were adopted pursuant to a new State law which allows the school election date to be changed to November by the municipality’s governing body, the board of education or by citizen petition.
Beginning this year, voters will elect the members of the Kearny Board of Education at the November election. The change in election date also eliminates the annual voter referendum on the school district’s proposed general fund tax levy for the district’s base budget. If the school board wishes to exceed the 2% tax levy cap, it must submit a separate question for a vote at the November election. If that were to occur, the school board would, while waiting for the November election, adopt a temporary budget that does not exceed the tax cap.
The primary reasons provided for the election change were low voter turnout in April and the cost of holding separate school elections. According to Mayor Santos, only 14% of the electorate participated in the most recent school district election held in April 2011. In contrast, voter turnout in November elections generally exceeds 40% and will likely exceed 50% this November. In addition, unlike an April school district election, the school board will save money by not incurring costs for the payment of election board workers, voting machine transportation, rental of polling places and overtime for election personnel since those costs are already covered by either the State or the County as part of the existing November General Election.
Candidates for the school board must file their petitions for office with the Hudson County Clerk no later than 4:00 p.m. on the same day of the Primary Election, which is June 5, 2012. The term of office for school board member is three years. The members of the Board of Education whose terms of office would have expired with an April election in 2012 will continue in office until the end of the year.