BOE to Be Elected in November, No Budget Question

Board of Ed unanimously approved a resolution to make the switch.

The on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to hold school elections in November.

The change means the school board will not need voter approval on budgets that stay within a state-mandated 2 percent cap.

Officials said more than 250 districts have made the switch since a new state law allowed towns to make the change as of a few weeks ago.

Board members' terms are automatically extended by several months until the next election, when candidates will appear on ballots with others seeking elected office in November.

Districts could switch back to April elections in four years.

By combining with other elections, more voters could end up casting ballots for school board candidates than have done so in the past, and towns would save money by not conducting a separate election.

Board President Dr. Karen Cortellino and that she believed it had enough support to pass.

"The checks and balances are in place," she said. "The budget is capped at 2 percent. We present year after a year a very responsible budget."

Towaco resident Truscha Quatrone asked whether changing the date meant the budget question had to be eliminated. Officials said that was the case.

Maxim Sapozhnikov February 08, 2012 at 12:18 PM
I'd like to see an explanation as to why the budget question had to be eliminated. I assume Dr. Cortellino provided one, and wish it were included in the article.
Ed February 08, 2012 at 03:02 PM
I am very disappoined with the members of the BOE removing my "right to vote on the budget". As a taxpayer, you have cut us out of the approval process....I now have no say in how tax money will be spent... there are no checks and balances.. just a 2% cap each year.
Dan Grant February 08, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Ok Great, Now we will have more people voting with less to vote on. There are more reasons than the 2 percent cap to vote for or against a budget. It is a means for the voting public to express how their money is being spent as well. Max don't blame the Board for not being able to vote on the budget, Blame Trenton and the Governor who signed the legislation. That was the deal they offered to get school Boards to switch. What this really does is allow the Legislature and the Governor to avoid the real issue of making property tax payers pay 95 percent of the cost of educating NJ's children. That actually is a Consitutionally mandated function of the State. It is the driving factor in the overall rise of property taxes and without support from a broad based tax all this choice does is take the voters eye off the ball. Don't get me wrong, I have always supported the School Budgets except one year in protest when I realized they were paying their Law Firm as much as $350,000 per year without even seeking bids from other law firms.
Truscha Quatrone February 08, 2012 at 04:29 PM
The problem is that this little clause in the bill to move the elections was NOT openly discussed. Most residents were unaware of this clause in the bill. School Boards will now be able to increase the budget by 2% every year with out any oversight from the public. I suggest we vote out the old school board members and put in new people who commit to a lower than 2% increase.
Maxim Sapozhnikov February 08, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Truscha and Dan, I'm still wondering how the Board can manage to stay within 2% without major program cuts. Average yearly increases for seniority are 3-4% plus the occasional negotiated bump, benefit costs are growing alarmingly, and the school buildings aren't getting any newer. So eventually they will be forced to introduce higher increases and it will happen not in April but in November, facing a tax-weary general voting pool. They do have their jobs cut out for them, don't they?
Dan Grant February 08, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Max, It is my understanding the increase this years budget shows a less than 1 percent increase. That isn't a bad thing that is a good thing and as far as the physical plant all the schools had major work done prior to you moving here. ( I think you said you moved here in 2005). Right now I think we have a pretty good school board at least a majority of them who try to balance the needs of the students with the need for a tight budget. It could also be that your rants about teachers and the Education Association are just wrong. As far as benefit costs wasn't it the prudent change in Healthcare the reason they were able to propose the turf fields last year which the voters turned down?
Maxim Sapozhnikov February 08, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Dan, there are numerous reasons why the budget stayed under the cap this year, and only few of them are related to the board. First, the state aid increased considerably compared to last year (thank you, Gov. Christie). Second, the enrollment number were actually lower than last year. Third, there was a federal grant for a foreign-language class. And last but not the least, there was that huge health-insurance saving (thank you, Gov. Christie) that the Board tried to burn on the turf project. None of these may materialize come next budget year, and then we'll see how the Board and Dr. Fried are doing.
Truscha Quatrone February 08, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Max as I generally do not like posting conversations on the Patch I must correct your assumptions. First we do not even know how much the state is giving us this year, there is an assumption that is will be the same as last year. Second, had you been at the meeting you would have heard that the Federal grant for language was rescinded, third enrollment numbers are and have always changed up and down. In this years budget due to lower enrollment we have actually added more science and math classes. Finally, our township had already instituted a new health insurance carrier before Christie's proposals. I am not an expert at this but I will make the assumption that retiring older teacher have had the biggest impact on the budget.
Maxim Sapozhnikov February 08, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Thanks for the update, Truscha; I usually go to these meetings but missed it this year due to a business trip. I warned Dr. Fried that the grant will soon go away but I did not know that it already happened. I agree that the state aid and the enrollment may not affect the budget numbers but they do affect programs that the district can afford; without them, the quality drop would have been noticeable.
Dan Grant February 08, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Max, Before you thank Governor to much, remember that he cut Montville $3.1 Million the first year and gave back $1.6 million the next. Over all I think the Board is doing a good job with the Budget They aren't the Township who managed to take almost $1 Million from water a sewer rate payers to hide their tax increases. This was actually a slick political move by Christie but you can't blame the Boards of Ed for signing on to it.
Maxim Sapozhnikov February 08, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Dan, the blame for decimated state aid lies squarely with unelected cretins in black robes who hoisted Abbott on us. I only blame Gov. Christie for not hanging on a lamppost them but that would be too much to expect, right?
Carmela Novi February 08, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Truscha, as you are aware, I am a sitting Board of Education member, although I speak only for myself, and not for the Board, in this forum. While I am loathe to enter into debates on this type of forum, it is FACTUALLY INCORRECT to state that the bill to move the elections was not openly discussed. It was discussed at the January 24, 2012 meeting, in open session, by the Board of Education. In fact, that discussion was noted in an article posted on Montville Patch. The Board held off voting on the election move on January 24 in order to give the public an opportunity to be heard on the subject prior to voting. That opportunity was last night. Its not a "little clause" in a bill, its a piece of legislation passed by our elected representatives, and which Gov Christie signed three weeks, ago permitting school elections to be moved to November, and if so, eliminating the vote on the budget so long as the proposed budget has a less than 2% tax levy increase in it. I also point out that the proposed 2012-2013 budget presented last night represents a tax levy increase of .81%, quite a bit below the 2% cap, while including new educational initiatives. We have not just committed to a less than 2% tax levy increase, we're actually doing it (and we did it last year, too). Thank you for listening. Sincerely, Carmela Novi
Carmela Novi February 08, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Hi, Max. Please note that there will be further discussion on the budget, including proposed new educational initiatives, at the February 28, 2012 Board of Education meeting. The presentation is supposed to be posted on the website shortly (if it has not been so already). Please review and attend the meeting in the event you have any questions or comments. Thank you for listening. Sincerely, Carmela Novi
CARMEN L. ALLORA February 09, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Seems to me that budgets without voter review can easily lead to abuses no matter the caps. How can one assure that the budgetary items meet community needs without oversight. This is counter to good financial sense.
Ed February 10, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Carmen I agree with you. Your right to vote has been removed from the taxpayers by the BOE.. from my view, we have no checks and balances on the budget. I am very disappointed with each of the members of the BOE.
MadInNJ February 11, 2012 at 08:40 PM
How about only having people comment if they've actually paid any attention to the issue. Not sure how someone can say the topic of eliminating the budget vote if the tax levy increase is under the cap when it's been all over the media, including the Patch - http://montville.patch.com/articles/should-montville-boe-move-election-to-november


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