A bill introduced in the Senate would address the problem of the seven-month period between the time school board candidates submit their paperwork to run in the November election and the time they actually start serving on the board.
DA Directive The bill, if enacted, would achieve a goal set by school board representatives attending NJSBA’s Delegate Assembly on May 19. At the Delegate Assembly, board members approved a resolution submitted by the Red Bank Board of Education in Monmouth County that called for NJSBA support in aligning the nominating petition filing deadline with the filing deadline of non-partisan municipal candidates, which is 64 days before the election.
The Red Bank school board’s resolution submitted to NJSBA’s policy-setting body noted that early petition requirements “may discourage school board candidate interest.”
S-2086 would change the deadline for school board candidates to file nominating petitions from June to September, so that it matches the filing deadline for submitting nominating petitions for other non-partisan candidates running for public office.
S-2086, introduced June 18 by Sen. Jim Whelan, aims to rectify the long lag time so that the school board candidates’ deadline for filing nominating petitions matches the deadline for filing petitions for other candidates seeking elective public office. Sen. Whelen introduced the bill after taking part in NJSBA’s Legislative Day event in June, where board members had raised the issue.
New Law Earlier this year, a new law allowed communities to move their annual school election date from April to the General Election in November. Making the switch to November placed school board candidates’ names on the ballot, but it eliminated the public vote on proposed school budgets that remained under the state’s 2-percent tax levy cap. More than 85 percent of the state’s elected school boards moved to November elections.
However, the originators of the law tied the deadline for school board members to hand in their nominating petitions to the primary election, which fell on June 5 this year – a full five months before the General Election, and seven months before successful candidates would be sworn into office.
Change to 64 Days Specifically, S-2086 would change the filing deadline for school board candidates from the date of the primary election to 64 days before the November election. Had this provision been in effect this year, the deadline for school board members to submit their nominating petitions would be Sept. 4 instead of June 5.
The bill would also change other deadlines relating to petitions of nomination to make those deadlines match the ones established in current law for candidates for other elective public offices.
The bill was sent to the Senate Education Committee for its review. If signed into law, it would take effect on the Jan. 1 following its enactment.
NJSBA will analyze the bill and work with the bill’s sponsor to incorporate additional language that would correct any other inconsistencies in the nominating petition process.