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South Brunswick School Elections Moving to November

South Brunswick Board of Education votes to move annual school election to November.

The South Brunswick Board of Education voted unanimously during Monday evening's meeting to move the annual school election to November. Officials estimated the move could save the district $36,000 and the township $14,000 on the cost of running the April election. The move eliminates a budget vote entirely for spending that falls within the new 2 percent tax cap.

"The bottom line is that this saves money," said board member Barry Nathanson. "It doesn't change anything because we will still work to have the best budget on the table to make sure we, along with the public, pay as little taxes as possible."

Just weeks after Gov. Chris Christie gave them the option, over 100 school districts have elected to eliminate the annual public vote on the school budget. This also moves the vote on board of education candidates to November, who will now be elected next to political seats ranging from the township council to the President of the United States (this year). The rationale is districts that keep within the 2 percent cap are budgeting responsibly, so there is no need to put the budgets to a public vote.

By moving the school election to November, the district has committed to having November elections for the next four years.

Board member Daniel Boyle expressed some hesitance over concern for partisanship playing a role in board of education elections, but ultimately he said his decision was based on economic considerations. Boyle also said he was hesitant about removing the public's right to vote on the school budget.

"Moving the election doesn't remove the responsibility of the board to provide the best education this community can afford," said Board of Education President Stephen Parker. 

 Taxpayers approved a $95 million general fund levy that carried a 12.2 cent tax rate increase, which raised the school tax rate to $2.802 per $100 of assessed valuation. A township home with an assessed value of $200,000 saw an increase of about $244 in school taxes under the approved budget ($20.33 per month) and a home assessed at $300,000 saw an increase of about $366 ($30 per month).

With state and federal offices also on the November general election ballot, the move would address the low turnout for April school elections. About 15 percent of 24,780 registered voters in South Brunswick cast their ballots in the April 2011 school election.

"By moving the election to November when people are going to vote for other things, they are more likely to remember to vote for the (board of education)," said board member Harry Delgado.

According to the law, the Middlesex County Clerk would assume control of elections that are moved to November, acting as filing officer for nomination petitions, ruling on objections to nominations and designing the set-up of the ballot.

Ballots would include school board candidates in a separate section of the general ballot, and candidates "will not be aligned with any political party or partisan candidates," according to the DOE.

Districts that move their vote will not have to pay for "base costs" of elections, including paying board workers and election personnel, transporting voting machines, renting polling places, printing ballots or other costs, according to the state. A district would, however, be responsible for any increased costs incurred by the shifting of school elections to November. Those costs are expected to be minimal, the DOE said.

Moving the election also requires districts to change the organization schedule of the district's board of education, requiring them to reorganize in the first week in January instead of in the spring. The district's fiscal year would still run from July to July the following year.

Superintendant Gary McCartney said the district would still be holding public hearings on the budget as they had in previous years. Dr. McCartney said he was in favor of the move because if a budget that falls within the 2 percent cap were to be defeated, that budget base would be lowered for the following school budget election.

"If you have a series of budgets that fail you can never make that up," he said. "That affects students and teachers."

Monmouth Junction Elementary School PTO member Lisa Rodgers was the only member of the public to speak about the school election change during the public portion of the meeting. She expressed concerns that the value of public budget hearings would be negated by a budget automatically passing if it falls within the 2 percent cap. She also said it would affect the ability of the community to see the justification for any budget increase.

Ultimately, the board members said they have always acted responsibly with the budget and in the best interest of the students.

"Our tax levy hasn't changed in three years except to restore lost (ratables)," McCartney said. "We've demonstrated incredible accountability to do more with less."

Do you agree with the Board of Education's decision to move the school election" Tell us in the comments.

Winston February 07, 2012 at 04:31 PM
No it's with the SB BOE not being fiscally responsible in improving heir financial effeciencies and rubber stamping the Unions demands.
Marty Abschutz February 07, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I hope you applied to serve on the Board's Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee to help identify further efficiencies. The Board has reduced its going forward expenses significantly during the past few years. (It's easy for someone to say "efficiencies" when they don't identify specifics.)
Marty Abschutz February 07, 2012 at 05:55 PM
It just occurred to me that your, "... Rubber stamping the Unions' (sic) demands" is another platitude since you have no way of knowing what the unions' demands were.
Marty Abschutz February 07, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Winston, I suspect you might be among the first to complain that the Board didn't do it's job in challenging the charter schools to provide the same basic safety for its students as the Board is required to provide for its students.
Winston February 07, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Marty being the special interest political insider that you are why don't you be transparent and share with us what they were?
Marty Abschutz February 07, 2012 at 07:30 PM
What is my special interest? What makes me political? What makes me an insider?
Winston February 07, 2012 at 08:57 PM
What are your special interest? You are an anti-school choice zealot attacking anyone posting their support for charter schools and teacher accountability. You lead a politically connected group that raises and donates monies in the name of “children’s education”. You were and are connected to school board. What makes you political? You donated hundreds of dollars to the Obama campaign. Ironically his administration supports charter schools and you don’t. Hmmm…a non-political donor…LOL What makes you an insider? Seems like you and the Misses are a regular Bill and Hillary… Member of the South Brunswick Board of Education for the nine years ended May 2, 2011. (Marci served for the 12 years before that.) Served as President for three years and Vice President for two years. Member of it Budget Committee every year and chaired the committee for several of those years, including 2009 - 2010 and 2010 – 2011 Funny all the years you have been on or affiliated with the SB BOE we have had a dramatic rise in our school taxes. Is this a coincidence or just mismanagement?
Marty Abschutz February 07, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Winston, I think your last post constitutes more personal attacks than all of my posts on patch combined.
Winston February 07, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Hmmmm I post facts and you claim they are attacks....veryyyyy interesting! How come you cannot deny any of the facts that I posted?
Marty Abschutz February 07, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Winston, You found Marci and me out! We are proud to have served the children and taxpayers of South Brunswick for 21 years. During our time on the Board of Education, South Brunswick school district became recognized as one of the top districts in the State. The previous Executive County Superintendent, Dr. Piegari, called us one of the few "lighthouse districts" in the State. While that was happening, we also managed to keep our expenses under control so that we are now more than $2,000 per pupil below the State average. While you have no interest in recognizing that tax RATES can go up for reasons having nothing to do with how the Board of Education budgets, I have no interest in continuing this dialogue. You will have the last word. It is interesting that we started our discussion about the tax levy and tax rates (and why the past few years' tax rates had nothing to do with the Board of Edication increasing the local tax levy) and you chose to change it to being about how Marci and I have served this township for 21 years. That should tell any neutral observer all they need to know about your original posting.
Judy Walters February 07, 2012 at 10:50 PM
1. Marty is definitely one of the good guys. 2. Winston, You are right that a tax increase is a tax increase but tax increases occur for a variety of reasons. My property tax bill has gone up significantlysince state aid to the schools was drastically cut. We know who cut the state aid. This is not a coincidence. 3. Marty can verify that unlike other people, I have gone to school district budget meetings and questioned expenditures. In the last few years, it's obvious that a ton has been cut out of the budget. With two children in the district for many years (I have an eighth grader and a senior) I've seen with my own eyes the cuts over we've endured. Things we used to think nothing about having are gone and now we're at a point that we pay fees for things like AP classes. Winston, let me know when you'll be at a public board budget meeting. I'll meet you there and we can go through the budget together. (Please try to respond without lots of exclamation points. :)
Truthteller February 07, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Winston are you kidding. Marty served the community for nine years with no pay. He is a gentlemen and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. As he stated the SBBOE has a per pupil cost of almost $2K less per student than the state average. That equates to close to 1, 800,000 in savings each year. Winston your lack of understaning a tax levy and the relationship to ratables is obvious. Let me simplify the amount of money spent by the schools did not increase for the last three years. The amount of revenue they receive from the twon based on the assesed values of homes decreased, therefore an increase in taxes was necessary to maintain the same level of funding.
Bobby Moore February 08, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Winston here is REALITY.... There are contracts in place. Like it or not, you can't just fire people who you think are overpaid. So there is money already allocated for years... what do you want to cut.. band, football, baseball, science club. Your school 'choice', will just duplicate school efforts for a district that isn't even broken, and thus drag down the quality of education. You'll have to hire more bus drivers, maintain more schools etc etc etc, and for what? To bust up a union. THAT seems rather political if you ask me. As for Obama, the nation approves of him, the state approves of him. FACTS. Who do you donate to? Anyone presently running ? Why is this germane, besides you will be voting for someone else, and you can look up Marty on open secrets. and you too could be an 'insider'. Just vacate the tough guy on the internet cave and voice these opinions in the real world. See how you do. Marty has done it for years. and what do you think he's gotten, besides a sense of service, from it? ohh and people on the internet fighting with him. You have to respect ANYONE who puts themselves out of the local level. There is little gain.... I understand your views. I have friends with them, but your over the top righteousness is just .... well. . . silly. and fights again your efforts. You are no Chris Christie.
Winston February 08, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Marty glad to see its about the children and not about your ego! Your post reminded me of Obama's political style. In one sound bite he claims to support Israel while on the other hand he supports Hezbollah. You claim to be on the side of the voters and taxpayers while crafting or influencing a school budget that raises my taxes...like Obama you cannot have it both ways!
Bobby Moore February 08, 2012 at 01:29 AM
That's the worst analogy I have ever read. . .And the basis of it is a lie.
Winston February 08, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Bobby...where's the lie? In my opinion...Marty claims to be part of the solution and for the people. But in my opinion for the past 12 years he has actually been a big part of the problem. Higher taxes, lack of transparency, collusion with unions, supporting anti-choice, and worst of all, as a board member it was his job to challenge the status quo and look out for the taxpayers and children's best interest. In my opinion, under his tenure as a member of the Union controlled democrat party we the tax payer and all SB children are paying to keep him and his special interest group in power.
Bobby Moore February 08, 2012 at 05:01 AM
The lie is that Obama supports Hezbollah. Its as much a joke as saying he is not an American. And as I said in a previous comment, the reality is you can only do so much. You want school choice? SB isn't a huge township. Any monies taken out of the schools we have now, just make them worse. So... once you retire the teachers you can, what are you going to cut? Football? AP English? Winston there are PDF's of the budget. Look it over and get back. Asbury Park Press also has on its site teacher salaries... let me know who is over paid. and then maybe... if you are so concerned with local politics. do something. the amount of time you send here could well be served, serving America.
HF48 February 08, 2012 at 11:31 AM
So, there are three council positions up this coming November. Will we see the name Winston on the ballot? He seems to have all the answers, or at least the cliches and talking points.
Winston February 08, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Bobby...as usual you ae wrong again. The Obama administration has lifted funding restrictions and has sided with lebanon over Israel on several issues. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/253689/will-obama-fund-hezbollah-michael-rubin Back to the bloated school budgets. School employees need to recieve compensation and benefits at private sector parity. Everyone knows the union chokehold on the democrats is the reason that we are in this financial mess. So Bobby...nothing needs to get cut...but teachers need to stop being treated as some protected class of royalty.
Truthteller February 08, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Winston you are saying nothing needs to get cut just stop treating teachers as a protected class. Tenure is a state requirement no district can eliminate it. Tenure is the law in the state since the early 1900's. The SBBOE is a member of NJSBA which has advocated for tenure reform. While Marty was on the board he was active in the NJSBA therefore, he was fighting for some of the things you want. I guess if you had the facts you would realize Marty served honorably and did what he could. As for transparency how more transparent can one be than inviting members of the public to serve on the budget committee ( you should apply). Also the SBBOE is audited each year as required by the state and that report is delivered in a public meeting. You do realize the audit for the past few years had no findings and no recommendations something extremely rare. Again these are just the facts please do not let them get in the way of your arguments. I believe like many others it is a waste of time responding to you.
Concerned SB Citizen February 08, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Winston, I don't know how many kids or grand kids you have but try to teach them all once, you will see that it take lot of effort to teach them. Teachers job is more harder then any hard working blue collar worker, you are dealing with different personality kids. They are raising future of America and Future of world. Fr God sack, recognize this fact and admit that they are underpaid, even charter school is paying way more then our what our "union" school teachers. I am not a teacher but a parents of three kids and from experience I can say that teachers do work hard at least in our school district. I have two option for you, One either you move out where there are no kids and no school or we eliminate our school from township, so that YOU do not have to pay taxes. I hope you went to school and found out that how hard your teacher worked. Respect teachers. Be pro kids and pro future!
Winston February 08, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Fact. During the largest increases in the school budget and taxes,in SB history, Marty was either on the board, an adviser or affiliated with the SB BOE Fact. The NJEA and Unions are the largest donors to the NJ Democrat Party. Which Marty is an insider, participant and donor. In my opinion, the reasons for our bloated school budget and payroll is due to management incompetence, weak oversight or collusion with special interests groups or both! Facts...facts...and more facts!
I am RIGHT February 08, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Folks - Winston, previously known as Steve from Kingston is paid by the Patch to bring readers to the site. Like many columnists he is trying to evoke a response and many times he is successful. For him everything is political and everything is black & white, never a gray area. Somehow the members of the BOE are all democrats and they are all pro Obama. He's good at making these connections and getting responses and ultimately driving readers to the Patch, which is his PAID job. Winston is actually a journalism professor, a liberal, and you are all part of his research. Just thought you should know.
Winston February 08, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Yes I make One Milllllllllllllllllllllllllllllion Dollars!
Winston February 08, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Folks..I AM Right has historically and consistently - Always Been Left and Always Been Wrong.
Winston February 08, 2012 at 03:54 PM
A political supporter is one who donates time and/or money to a political party. Public records show that the person and former board member in question has in fact made donations to a specific political party. Therefor he or she must be a political supporter. Hmmmm...why do facts confuse some people! PS...Please keep up the personal attacks rather than avoid addressing the truth!
I am RIGHT February 08, 2012 at 03:57 PM
At least we have confirmed W/SFK is sarcastic. And BTW there's nothing wrong with sarcasm. At least everyone can appreciate the point of view.
I am RIGHT February 08, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Steve - You remain my favorite blogger. Thank you again for you time and service to the greater SB community. Love you!
I am RIGHT February 08, 2012 at 04:03 PM
"Anyone to the left of Atilla the Hun must be a liberal." - W/SFK
Winston February 08, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I AM Right...now I know why Mom always liked you best!


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