Tonight’s township council meeting will again address the increasingly controversial issue of whether to move school board elections to November from April.
Four members of the school board spoke at last Monday’s meeting, three in opposition and one in support of moving the election. The debate continued at the BOE meeting the following night on February 14.
Proponents of the initiative say a November election would save the township money and would result in greater voter turnout. The school board says the move would create a host of administrative problems and hidden costs to taxpayers.
Today Patch received the following message from School Superintendent Jason Bing, who outlined some of the data he sees supporting his opposition to the move, based on the district's fiscal year budget:
“Five months of unemployment for 18 basic skills teachers at $12,643.60 each. Total cost to taxpayers: $227,584.80. That number is more than FIVE times the "savings" of a November election. The cost of which is $40,000 not the $20,000 Bob D. cited. And that doesn't include four librarians who will be unemployed for five months or the privatization of our buses, which will affect 25 drivers who MAY be offered jobs with the company that takes over the routes. A high percentage of all these employees will be Bloomfield residents. The librarians are likely to bring the total taxpayer cost of a November election to a half million dollars.”
Despite the fact that the school board recently voted by overwhelming majority to keep its school elections in April, the township council and public referendum could override the wishes of the board. On February 13 the council voted 3-2 in favor of the proposal to move the elections to November.
Council members Carlos Bernard, Elias Chalet and Michael Venezia supported the move, while Mayor Raymond McCarthy and Councilman Bernard Hamilton opposed it. Councilman Joanow abstained, saying, “I’m not getting good vibes out of this.” Councilwoman Peggy Dunigan was absent. The issue will be voted on again at tonight’s council meeting.
As of last week’s meeting, several council members said they had not had enough time to review the long-term implications of moving the elections.
Councilman Nick Joanow stated, “This redefines how we operate as a township . . . the law allows for the municipality to pass a law as such, but somewhere we need to respect [the school board’s] ability to govern their own destiny . . . This has vast implications. Once agreed upon, we’re tied into it for four years.”
The council will discuss the issue again tonight at 7:00 pm in Council Chambers. The public is encouraged to attend.