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4-19-12 Education & Related Issues in the News - School Budgets pass overwhelmingly...Newark Supt. Anderson named amony Times Magazine Top 100 most Influential
NJ Spotlight - School Vote A Record-Breaker For Passing Budgets and Low Turnout…With most districts waiting till fall, voter indifference marks holdouts’ approval of spending plans..."Marlboro Superintendent David Abbott said it will likely cost his district close to $50,000 to have held the election...But fewer than 2,000 people voted out of a registration roll exceeding 20,000, making some wondering if it worth the effort – not to mention the costs..."

The Record - 90% of districts with April votes won approval of school budgets… Tax levies for the 2012-13 school year passed in 63 of 70 districts, and in all 27 districts in Bergen and Passaic counties that voted…Ridgewood stuck with the April election this year, and its budget passed, but Superintendent Daniel Fishbein said the board was likely to revisit the issue when it has more time to consider... And, he said, the change wouldn't mean cutting the public out of the process.

Star Ledger - N.J. voters pass most school budgets… Only seven budgets were defeated — from a total of 70 who held budget votes, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association. Last year, 79.7 percent of 538 proposed budgets were approved.

Star Ledger - Newark schools boss Cami Anderson named to Time's 100 Most Influential People List

 NJ Spotlight - School Vote A Record-Breaker For Passing Budgets and Low Turnout…With most districts waiting till fall, voter indifference marks holdouts’ approval of spending plans..."Marlboro Superintendent David Abbott said it will likely cost his district close to $50,000 to have held the election...But fewer than 2,000 people voted out of a registration roll exceeding 20,000, making some wondering if it worth the effort – not to mention the costs..."

By John Mooney, April 19, 2012 in Education|Post a Comment

In the first break from New Jersey's traditional spring school elections, just 70 districts went to the polls on Tuesdays, these holdouts from a switch to November hearing resounding approval for their budgets -- at least from the tiny fraction that actually voted.

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Voters in 63 of the 70 districts deciding on annual budgets gave approval, a 90 percent passing rate that was highest in recorded history for the state. Across New Jersey, close to 60 percent of all voters sided with their local budgets, according to preliminary figures.

But while statewide turnout numbers have yet to be compiled, those also looked close to a record -- going the other way.

In Bergen County, where 20 districts’ budgets were up for vote and all passed, just 10.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. In Essex, with four budgets up for vote and all passing, turnout was just 7.9 percent in the districts voting, according to county statistics.

If it stays within that range, it would be the lowest turnout rate since just 10 percent voted in 1987. The average since then isn’t much better at about 15 percent. Only once did it top 20 percent, two years ago in what was a year of unprecedented budget defeats.

Of course, all the rules are different this year, following new state law that permitted districts to move their school board election to November with the general election and to exempt their budgets from a vote entirely if it stayed within the state’s 2 percent tax cap.

More than 460 districts took up the offer, and they did not have voting at all on Tuesday, the first time in more than a century that school votes weren’t held statewide.

Of those that stayed in April, seven took the risk and saw their budgets rejected, setting up the possibility of cuts by the municipal council.

The seven were Delsea Regional, Franklin and Monroe in Gloucester County; North Bergen in Hudson County; Readington in Hunterdon County; Lawrence in Mercer County; and Lakewood in Ocean County.

Two of three districts seeking separate ballot approvals of so-called “second questions” for specific spending over the cap also were rejected. They were Hawthorne in Passaic County and Greenwich in Warren County, both seeking funds to reinstate teachers.

The only second question to pass was Haddon Heights in Camden County, which won approval to spend an extra $207,000 for extracurricular activities, including cheerleading, band and choir.

Edison was one of four districts in Middlesex County going to the polls Tuesday, proposing a slight tax reduction to their voters. And even that saw only the slightest margin of victory, just 32 votes out of more than 4,000 cast.

The Edison board this winter chose to stay with the April vote for now and take some time to decide whether to switch to November, a move that can’t be revisited for at least four years under the law.

Gene Maeroff, the board’s president, said the narrow win on Tuesday on a budget that actually offered a tax cut certainly gave him pause. He said the board would likely take up the matter again this year, probably in the fall.

“You can see how tempting it is to go to November and not have to submit to a vote,” he said last night. “We cut the levy when we could have taken it up 2 percent, and we’re still only passing by the slimmest margin.”

One of just two districts voting in Monmouth County, Marlboro schools saw a little more cushion, seeing the budget pass by closer to a two to one margin. It, too, included a slight tax reduction.

But fewer than 2,000 people voted out of a registration roll exceeding 20,000, making some wondering if it worth the effort – not to mention the costs.

Marlboro Superintendent David Abbott said it will likely cost his district close to $50,000 to have held the election. And while it is entirely a board vote on whether to switch to November -- and his board fell one vote short of whether to switch -- Abbott didn’t hide his opinion.

“It is hard to rationalize staying in April when only drawing single digits to the polls,” he said. “It’s just hard to defend.”

Still, he doesn’t know what November would bring, either. He put the blame on voter apathy this spring, saying the districts certainly let people know that there was still an election. The general election would bring more people to the polls, but likely less inclined to be there for school issues.

“It will be interesting what happens in November,” Abbott said. “We don’t know that chapter yet.”

The Record - 90% of districts with April votes won approval of school budgets… Tax levies for the 2012-13 school year passed in 63 of 70 districts, and in all 27 districts in Bergen and Passaic counties that voted…Ridgewood stuck with the April election this year, and its budget passed, but Superintendent Daniel Fishbein said the board was likely to revisit the issue when it has more time to consider the switch. And, he said, the change wouldn't mean cutting the public out of the process.

Thursday, April 19, 2012  BY PATRICIA ALEX STAFF WRITER

Voters rewarded 90 percent of the school districts statewide that took a calculated risk and put their budgets up for a vote on Tuesday — despite a new law that lets them bypass such approval if they switch their elections to November — according to unofficial tallies released on Wednesday.

Voters rewarded 90 percent of the school districts statewide that took a calculated risk and put their budgets up for a vote on Tuesday — despite a new law that lets them bypass such approval if they switch their elections to November — according to unofficial tallies released on Wednesday.

Tax levies for the 2012-13 school year passed in 63 of 70 districts, and in all 27 districts in Bergen and Passaic counties that voted on them, the New Jersey School Boards Association said.

Frank Belluscio, a spokesman for the association, said the approval rate was helped by the fact that most budgets called for small spending increases.

"Voters saw that boards had fiscally prudent programs," Belluscio said.

Nearly 85 percent of districts in the state — 468 of them — have moved their balloting to the general election in November. They took advantage of a law signed in January that was designed to increase voter participation — but also allowed them to avoid voter approval of their spending plans as long as they do not increase more than 2 percent.

Districts like Teaneck and Clifton rushed to make the switch, saving themselves the often harrowing prospect of school budget defeats and subsequent spending cuts. Budgets were rejected in about 20 percent of districts in the state last year, according to the school boards association.

Some districts that clung to the decades-old calendar, like Ridgewood, have a track record of budget approvals. But others chose to stay with the April elections despite an often uphill battle in getting the spending plans approved.

Budget defeats have been common for most of the last decade at Manchester Regional, which serves high school students from Prospect Park, Haledon and North Haledon. But Manchester's board wanted to stick with an April election, and this year it paid off as the spending plan was approved by just over 30 votes.

"I think there was a little bit of people saying, 'The board put their faith in us and they are not taking our vote away from us,' " said a longtime trustee, Jeff Fischer. "There was a respect that the board didn't take the easy way out and move it to November."

Indeed, trustees whose districts chose to stay with April expressed concern that the November move would rob voters of the chance to consider school spending, which is the largest part of local property tax bills.

"I vigorously opposed the suggestion," said Richard Muti, a trustee in Ramsey. "It's important that the public have a say in how its money is spent."

"Having to present your case to the public every year keeps a board on its toes," said Muti, who stressed he was not speaking on behalf of the board. "You have to make a good case."

But Belluscio said he expected more boards will continue to switch to a November vote. Some held back this year so as not to rush the decision.

Ridgewood stuck with the April election this year, and its budget passed, but Superintendent Daniel Fishbein said the board was likely to revisit the issue when it has more time to consider the switch. And, he said, the change wouldn't mean cutting the public out of the process.

"You'd still need to make your case to the public," said Fishbein. "It's still a big part of their tax bill."                               Email: alex@northjersey.com

 

 

Star Ledger - N.J. voters pass most school budgets… Only seven budgets were defeated — from a total of 70 who held budget votes, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association. Last year, 79.7 percent of 538 proposed budgets were approved.

 Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 8:00 AM  By Jeanette Rundquist/The Star-LedgerThe Star-Ledger

For most New Jersey school districts, taking a chance paid off.

Voters in 90 percent of school districts that put budgets up for a public vote on Tuesday approved the spending plans.

Only seven budgets were defeated — from a total of 70 who held budget votes, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association. Last year, 79.7 percent of 538 proposed budgets were approved.

Other election results remained up in the air, however, after a voting machine problem left some ballots uncounted in Newark. Essex County officials Wednesday sought the court order necessary to open the machine.

For the first time in decades, school districts this year were permitted to cancel school budget votes if their budgets met the state’s property tax cap. Most districts opted to do so, and will hold candidate elections in November.

Only 73 of New Jersey’s roughly 600 school districts went to the polls, and only 70 needed to hold budget votes.

Readington, in Hunterdon County, is one town that saw a defeat. School Business Administrator Steffi-Jo DeCasas said the board had cut costs — this year’s tax levy was almost $900,000 less than last — so was disappointed.

But she said board members felt the public deserved its say. "The board debated that over two meetings. They felt they didn’t want to take away the right of the voters," DeCasas said.

In Newark, where 10 candidates vied for three spots on the School Advisory Board, results were split between two slates. The Children’s First team won two spots, while Education Matters took one, with 89 votes separating the third- and fourth-place finishers.

Essex County Election Supervisor Eva Yanez said the county filed for a court order to open the faulty machine and collect votes — in East Ward, District 25 — where a strip of paper, which should have been printed with votes, came out blank. The order may be ready for Friday.

She could not determine how many voters had cast ballots there.

 

 

Star Ledger - Newark schools boss Cami Anderson named to Time's 100 Most Influential People List

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 7:54 PM Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 7:55 PM By Jessica Calefati/The Star-LedgerThe Star-Ledger

Time magazine has named Newark School Superintendent Cami Anderson one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in recognition of her commitment to turn around the city’s struggling schools, according to the list released today.

Anderson’s selection follows appearances by Gov. Chris Christie, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey businessman and philanthropist Ray Chambers on last year’s list.

Booker penned Anderson’s biography for the listing and praised the "modern day freedom fighter" as having redefined expectations for children who were incarcerated or pregnant or who had "dropped out, aged out or flunked out."

First in New York City, and now in Newark, Anderson, 40, has taken a system with "little accountability and no expectations, and in a short time, created a model for the country," Booker wrote. On the job for less than a year, Anderson is on track to increase student achievement and graduation rates.

"Joining with parents and the community, she is determined to end a long local and national nightmare in which too many of our children are casualties of our failure to serve their genius," Booker wrote. "Newark is on the front lines of the fight for America’s highest ideals.

Gov. Chris Christie cheered Anderson’s appearance on the annual list today during a press conference in Ewing, calling her an "aspirational choice."

"I think Cami would tell you herself that she has a lot of work to do in Newark still to earn that distinction," Christie said. "I have complete confidence in Cami and the job she’s trying to get done down there. It will not happen overnight."

In June, Anderson will continue her effort to remake the district by closing several failing elementary and middle schools throughout the city’s central and south wards and opening new schools, such as an academy for male students, in their place.

Although the planned school closings have drawn criticism from some community leaders, Anderson has said the move is vital in her mission to offer Newark children a quality public school education that prepares them for college and career.

"Our kids can’t wait," Anderson said when she announced the closings. "We need not give up on our students."

 


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