School Board Elections: the Race No One Wants to Run

November 3, 2015 | Education, Elections
Most school board elections in New Jersey go uncontested. 522 school districts will select board candidates today.

By Briana Vannozzi

School Board elections can often grow contentious, controversial and in the case of New Jersey this year, uncontested. 522 school districts will select board candidates today, but most of the seats have just one or none running.

Out of 1,861 candidates vying for positions on New Jersey’s School Boards there are 1,528 seats. That’s a ratio of 1.22 candidates to seats which is down slightly from last year. More than half of those open seats, 805 to be exact, will go uncontested and 130 of those openings have zero candidates filed.

On election day vacant seats are often decided by write-in candidates where all it takes is one vote to win.

The candidate has to be eligible and interested in the position. If no one is elected through votes, it’s up to the county superintendent to select an appointee. Out of those 1,861 candidates seeking positions this year, 64 percent or nearly 1200 are incumbents.

The reason for the disinterest is anyone’s guess but New Jersey’s School Boards Association has said it believes the filing deadline should be later in the year instead of the current July mandate.

8 districts will also have construction bond issues on the ballot for a total of nearly 117 million dollars.

A 2012 law permitted communities to move school elections from April to November. Most did, to cut down on costs and drive a bigger turnout. The stipulation? Property taxes can’t be raised more than 2 percent in the school budget. Currently, only 16 districts still hold elections in April.