Bill allowing ‘bracketing’ of school board candidates released

TRENTON – The Assembly State Government Committee released bill A3686, which would permit one or more school board candidates for April or November elections to circulate a joint nominating petition and to be bracketed together for the same term.

Current law does not permit the joint circulating of nominating petitions or the grouping of candidates on any ballot used in a school election.

The bill states that candidates must first notify the secretary of the board of education in writing prior to the drawing for position on the ballot.  The candidates would determine among themselves the order that their names are to appear within the bracket prior to notifying the secretary, the bill states.

After the drawing occurs, the candidates who are bracketed together will share a position on the ballot as a group and have their names printed together in the appropriate location on the ballot, depending on whether the candidates are to be elected to fill an expired or an unexpired term, the bill states.

The bill was released along party lines, with the Democrats voting for it and the Republicans against it.

Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-8) of Medford, said the bill would make it “a step closer towards politicizing our schools.”

“We need to leave things where they are,” he said.

But Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) of Fanwood, said the bill is strictly permissive and doesn’t mandate anything.

“It’s up to the local community…local circumstances,”she said.

But Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) of West Orange, said that in the many instances he’s seen, school board elections are already more politicized than many municipal races.

Bill allowing ‘bracketing’ of school board candidates released