Three years since a new state law made school-budget votes optional, voters in just 16 of New Jersey’s more than 550 school districts will be going to the polls today to vote on their local budgets -- more precisely, on the local property tax levy that funds those budgets.
These school districts – nearly half of them in Bergen County – have budget votes scheduled today:
Bergen County: Cliffside Park; Fairview; Garfield; Hackensack; Oakland; Palisades Park.
Cumberland County: Bridgeton
Essex County: Irvington
Hudson County: North Bergen and Weehawken
Middlesex County: New Brunswick
Monmouth County: Neptune
Morris County: School District of the Chathams and Riverdale
Passaic County: Passaic and Totowa
The districts are the last hold-outs from a massive wave of districts switched to November school board elections after a 2012 law allowed the shift, while also ending the century-old requirement for local budget votes -- as long as the levy stayed within the state’s new 2 percent cap.
The result: The 521 districts voting for their school boards in November do not hold budget votes at all. (However, those districts will be permitted to move back to an April vote on the budget after four years.)
The School District of the Chathams will be the only district holding a school-construction referendum in addition to the budget vote. The district has proposed a $24.8 million project that includes renovations at four schools. The date is one of five throughout the year when school-construction projects can be put up for vote.