January 26, 2012
Re: Guidance Issued on Moving the School Board Election to November
The Division of Local Government Services issued Local Finance Notice 2012-3 providing guidance on moving the School Board Election to the November General Election. As we explained in the January 19 Dear Mayor Letter the school board or municipal governing body or a petition of voters can move the April school board election to the November general election. While there is no set deadline in the new law, in order to move the school board election this year a resolution must be adopted by either the school board or municipal governing body and the County Clerk must be notify no later than February 17. This provides the appropriate time to avoid potentially unnecessary expenses related to preparing for an April election and also provides due notice to any person interested in filing a nomination petition for an April election.
In addition to providing a sample resolution (on page 6), the Local Finance Notice includes a Frequently Asked Questions such as:
Q. What happens if only the board or the governing body, but not both, pass a resolution moving the school election to November?
A. Under the law, the board and governing body each have independent authority to pass the resolution to move the April school election to November. It is not required that both the board and governing body agree on the change of the election date. A resolution to change the date from either government office is controlling.
Q. If a board or governing body passes the resolution, what other government offices should be notified?
A. P.L. 2011, c. 202 requires notification to the applicable county clerk. It is also strongly recommended that a copy of the resolution be provided to the county board of election (and the county superintendent of elections, if there is one in the county); the applicable municipal clerk(s) and school board secretary or secretaries; the State Division of Elections; the Department of Education’s Executive County Superintendent; and the Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services.
Q. If the election is moved to November, can it revert back to April at a later date?
A. Yes, but once a school election is moved to November, no action can be taken (either by petition or resolution) to move the election back to April for four years.
Q. Does a move to a November election affect a school board’s option to hold a special election, as is currently permitted by law four times a year at specified times?
A. No, the four special school election dates (January, March, September and December) remain available. April is not an option.
Q. Is the November school election a partisan or non-partisan election?
Q. If a school election is moved to November, does that extend the expired term of office for the current board members?
A. Yes, their terms are extended until the January re-organization meeting.
Q. If the election is moved to November, thereby eliminating the vote on the annual base budget, is the board still required to hold public hearings on the budget as currently required by law?
Q. If the election is moved to November, will the school board incur any costs?
A. Unlike an April election, the school board will not incur base costs for the payment of board workers, voting machine transportation, overtime for county election personnel, rental of polling places, or other inherent costs of an election. These costs are already covered by either the state or the county as part of the existing November general election.
The new law states that a school board would be responsible for any increased costs incurred only by a county board of election if the school election moves to November. It is anticipated that such added costs would be minimal, if any. The new law provides that the board of education and the respective board of election can enter into an agreement regarding cost, pursuant to guidelines to be issued by the Secretary of State.
A school board also would not be responsible for ballot printing costs as it is the county clerk, not the county board of election that has such responsibilities. Nor would a school board be responsible for any added costs incurred by a county superintendent of elections, if there is such office in the county.
Q. If a number of school elections are moved to November, will there be any added costs for those boards that continue with the April election?
A. It is possible that there is an increase in costs for districts maintaining April elections as a result of fewer school districts sharing in the overall costs of the April election.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.