Despite the bad economy and the state's fiscal woes, voters didn't react much differently when it came to supporting their local school budgets – even when they knew it might mean a small property tax increase. The only real difference is that some of the votes were a bit closer. 74% of all proposed school budgets were approved by voters in this week's school election, according to unofficial results released by the state Department of Education. Voters passed 409 of 550 budgets, and approved fifteen of nineteen bond referendums. Last year, voters approved 74% of all school budgets statewide.
But these were close elections: half the budgets (275 of 550) were either approved or rejected by margins of +/- 100 votes, and nearly one-third (168 of 550) were either approved or rejected by a +/- 50 vote margin. And in 43 school districts, the margin was +/- 10 votes. More than four out of ten budgets (110 out of 401) that passed were with 55% of the vote or less.
Voters in eleven school districts rejected a second ballot initiative that would have permitted spending beyond the state mandated 4% cap on tax increases. A new law that went into effect last year requires 60% of voters to approve spending beyond the cap.
Noteworthy: In North Bergen, where State Sen. Nicholas Sacco is the Assistant Superintendent of Schools, voters rejected the budget by an 88%-12% margin (the worst defeat for any school budget in the state.) The budget will now go to the township governing body, where Sacco is the Mayor. North Bergen voters have voted down the school budget for the last twenty years.
Teterboro passed their budget with 100% of the vote; all six voters supported the school budget.