July 13, 2011
Re: A-4126, Statutory Deadline for Municipalities to Act on Defeated School Budgets
Assemblyman Schaer has introduced A-4126, which requires the Commissioner of Education to change the deadline for municipal review of defeated school budgets whenever he changes the annual school election date. A-4126 addresses an oversight that created an inadequate time frame for governing bodies to act upon a defeated school budget.
On January 12, 2009, then Governor Corzine signed into law P.L. 2008, c. 129, which permitted the Department of Education Commissioner to change a school board election date that coincides with a period of religious observance. The legislation was a result of situation in which special school elections were scheduled for Tuesday, September 30th, the same day as Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar.
This year was the first time the annual school board election date was changed from Tuesday, April 19th to Wednesday, April 27th, due to Passover. As municipalities, in which a school budget was rejected, began the process to review and make recommendations on the rejected budget, an apparent oversight came to light. While P.L. 2008, c. 129 permits the change of Election Day it did not change the statutory deadline for municipalities to make a final determination on the rejected school board budget.
N.J.S.A. 18A:13-19, for regional school districts, and N.J.S.A. 18A:22-37, for single school districts, outline the procedure following school board budget rejection. Both statues require that the governing bodies, after consultation with the board, and no later than May 19, certify the amount for the ensuing school year.
The process to review a rejected school budget, especially those of a regional school district, are challenging under normal circumstances. The municipalities must not only review the budget material but coordinate schedules with the school board, county business administrator and other governing body members. In addition, the municipalities and school board must comply with the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act. And at some point, the governing body must hold a public meeting to take official action.
As you may have experienced, when acting upon a defeated school budget most municipalities need the full four weeks to thoroughly review the budget, consult with the school board and receive public input on the budget before taking final action. This year, however, this process was reduced to a two to three week process. Making a complex process much more challenging.
Municipalities need the full four weeks to review a defeated budget to be thoughtful and deliberative in their decision. Any less time to review will just lead to a rush job that will negatively impact the community.
In addition to contacting your State Senator and Assembly representatives to urge them to support A-4126, we urge you to adopt the sample resolution Supporting A-4126, Amending the Statutory Deadline for Municipal Review of a Defeated School Budget in Certain Circumstances. The resolution is available as a
Word – http://www.njslom.org/resolutions/res_supporting_A4126.doc
PDF - http://www.njslom.org/resolutions/res_supporting_A4126.pdf
If you have any questions or need additional information on A-4126 please contact Lori Buckelew at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-695-3481 x122.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.