Some of today’s School Board races and some of today’s stakes

Howell: The School District’s decision to close Southard Elementary School opens up the prospect of where to route the children displaced by the closing – but that decision occurs only if voters approve the School Board’s proposed budget today.

Robbinsville: This is one of those towns where the School Board hopes to reverse a tide of voter discontent, but faces a political environment worse than last year, when voters rejected the budget. Robbinsville’s $38.6 million price tag for schools represents an increase of about $1.4 million from what it is now. The increase would result in an extra $189 for a homeowner assessed at $400,000, from $4,334 to $4,523. Last year, after killing the School Board's initial proposal, residents settled for a 3-cent hike engineered by the Town Council.

Hoboken: While the Zimmer Team supports the Kids First Slate in the School Board Elections, her opponents are ostensibly staying out of today's fight. “Part of that reason is I wanted to keep politics out of it – the mayor doesn’t support the Board of Education,” said councilwoman Beth Mason,while the Cammarano Team this morning issued an email blast reminding people to remember to register to vote.

Hamilton: Voters considering a $178.9 million budget aren’t looking at a tax increase, as it stays at $1.86 per $100 of assessed value, but School Board candidate Sue Ferrara complains that Board President Eric Hamilton did not follow the board’s bylaws when he failed to appoint a budget committee.

Westfield: This affluent Union County town faces a $3.5 million shortfall and the prospect of 20 eliminated positions as voters size up a $78 million school budget, which would create a 3% tax increase or $220 per household more than last year.

Nutley: Having lost two budgets in three years, the School Board is asking taxpayers to pay an additional $272 to support the school system, which received an additional 5 percent in state aid, and still not enough to aovid $3.1 million worth of programming cuts, according to the superintendent.

Franklin: School District officials propose more than $3.1 million in cuts, including the elimination of over 40 positions, including ten teachers.

Irvington: As the city bears down on next year’s mayoral contest, North Ward Councilman David Lyons hopes to strengthen his chances with a School Board victory tonight. Teamed with state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark), Lyons scratched out a reelection victory last year against Team Irvington. Now, Lyons is hyping his School Board slate with robocalls and shoe leather campaigning as he looks to take down Mayor Wayne Smith or Council President John Sowell (who would likely run if Smith chooses not to run).

Newark: Booker ally Nakea White runs on an establishment slate for the School Board. A White victory this evening – which is likely, considering her machine support – positions her as a candidate for the city council in 2010. Running with the support of state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark) and North Ward Democratic leader Steve Adubato, Councilman Charles Bell defeated Booker candidate Eddie Osborne last year in a Central Ward special election. White placed fifth. Now Bell may not run again, but if he does, he would likely do so on a reconfigured political terrain, in which Booker and Adubato are now teamed up against Rice. That’s not good for Bell. With a win today, White would bear consideration as the Booker-Adubato team’s Central Ward council candidate next year.

Passaic: Up for reelection on May 12th, Mayor Alex Blanco backs School Board candidates Ronald Van Rensalier, Byron Bustos and Salim Patel. Blanco’s challenger, city super Vincent Capuana, has publicly distanced himself from the School Board race with the argument that it’s a nonpartisan contest, but insiders say his unwillingness to get shoulder to shoulder with candidates his backers support shows weakeness in the face of a Blanco organizational onslaught.

Roselle: Organization renegade Mayor Garrett Smith continues to fight the Union County Democratic Party and its local surrogates as he backs a slate consisting of Ken Haynes, Charles Mitchell and Charles Simmons against local party stalwarts Anthony Esposito, Michael Boyd and Shondalyn Gales.

Bloomfield: Looking at a $9 million spending gap, a dismal-times School Budget includes programming cuts and shfiting 71 special-education aides from full to part time.

Plainfield: In a hard case school budget cycle in a mayoral election year, the district has proposed eliminating 78 administrative and teaching positions while requesting an 8% tax increase. Some of today’s School Board races and some of today’s stakes