School budgets approved in 36 of 39 districts across N.J.

TRENTON – Voters approved 36 of the 39 local school budgets in Tuesday’s annual school elections, the New Jersey School Boards Association said Wednesday, based on preliminary results.

Besides approving 92 percent of the base budgets, voters also approved all second ballot questions and construction proposals.

Legislation enacted last year allows communities to decide whether to hold their school elections on the third Tuesday of April or during the General Election in November.

A total of 501 communities will hold school board member elections in November this year. The law eliminates the requirement that voters in November act on the school district’s proposed budget as long as it remains at or below the state’s 2 percent levy cap.

This year, 41 school districts held April elections. Two of those districts, Newark and Paterson, are state operated and voters in those cities select school board members but do not act on the proposed budget. In the other 39 districts, voters elect board members and act on the budget. Overall, there were 163 candidates on the ballot to fill 119 seats.

Base Budget questions The “base budget” funds the district’s operations for the coming school year. Voters approved 36 of the 39 proposed state budgets, and rejected budgets only in Belleville in Essex County, North Bergen in Hudson County, and Edison in Middlesex County.

Second questions Four school districts proposed questions to spend outside the base budget. Often called “second questions,” these proposals must cite a program, position or purchase to be funded and must indicate if it represents a recurring or a one-time expense. Voters approved all second-question proposals on the ballot this year. They were proposed in the following school districts: Wood-Ridge in Bergen County; Secaucus in Hudson County; the School District of the Chathams in Morris County (which proposed two additional ballot questions), and Greenwich Township in Warren County.

Summary of Additional Ballot Finance Questions

  • Wood-Ridge (Bergen County) – $500,000 for staffing and operational costs associated with the opening of the intermediate schools. – Approved
  • Secaucus (Hudson County) – $175,000 for security personnel in each of the district’s schools. – Approved
  • School District of the Chathams (Morris County) –

Proposal 1: $240,000 for counselors in the elementary and middle schools. – Approved

Proposal 2: $225,000 for a security personnel and a coordinator of district security. – Approved

  • Greenwich Township (Warren County): $670,000 to maintain existing staff, including art and music teachers, physical education teachers and guidance counselors. – Approved

Each of the proposals will result in a permanent increase in the district’s budget.

Summary of Bond Referendum Questions

Total amount approved: $7,167,515

BERGEN COUNTY

East Rutherford – Approved

Renovations to Faust School, including roof and window replacement, electrical and masonry repairs, and asbestos abatement.

Total amount: $530,000

Midland Park – Approved

Partial roof replacement

Total amount: $955,075

GLOUCESTER COUNTY

Franklin Township – Approved

Renovations to replace roof and upgrade the heating/ventilation/air condition system at the Janvier Elementary School.

Total amount: $2,332,440

MORRIS COUNTY

Pequannock – Approved

Construction of a gym addition at the Gerace Elementary School, including new parking, entrance, bathroom facilities and gymnasium.

Total amount: $3,350,000

School budgets approved in 36 of 39 districts across N.J.