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Voters went to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, with most getting the chance to determine who’d serve on their local school board.

In addition, voters in 18 school districts acted on ballot proposals seeking approval to do one or more of the following: to increase the local tax levy above the state’s 2% tax levy cap, to issue construction bonds, or to change the composition of the local school board.

In most New Jersey school districts, the annual school election takes place in November. This year, there were 2,151 candidates vying for 1,569 open seats in the November school board election, according to a New Jersey School Boards Association analysis of unofficial data provided by county clerks.

Of the 2,151 candidates vying for a seat, 905 were incumbents. Last year, 1,030 incumbents were seeking to be reelected, with 2,174 candidates vying for 1,594 board of education positions. That marks a 5% drop in the number of incumbents as a percentage of overall candidates – 42% this year versus 47% last November.

Starting in 2012, communities were permitted to change the date of their annual school board elections from April to November. Over 90% of school districts now conduct November elections. Only 13 school districts hold their annual elections in April, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association’s records. (In addition, with the results of yesterday’s election, there are now 36 districts in which school board members are appointed by the mayor or the county board of commissioners.)

Rate of Candidacy

This year’s ratio of candidates per open seat slightly increased to 1.37 candidates per available position, compared to the 2021 ratio of 1.36 candidates per seat, according to data gathered from the state’s 21 county clerks.

Tax Levy Questions

Four districts had questions on the ballot that would permanently increase the district’s tax levy. The below represents unofficial results as reported by county clerks and via published reports.

Delanco Township (Burlington County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization to raise an additional $75,198 for general funds in the 2022-2023 school year. These taxes will be used exclusively for the hiring of a grant writer and the reinstatement of extracurricular activities/athletics (safety patrol, boys baseball, eight grade adviser, girls softball, middle school newspaper and Impact Club) and will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy. The proposed expenditures are in addition to those necessary to achieve the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

Metuchen (Middlesex County) – APPROVED – asked voters to approve a measure that would permanently increase the district’s tax levy that is contingent on whether construction questions on the ballot are approved (see the next section on construction proposals for details).

Ocean Township (Ocean County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization to increase the tax levy by $840,000 for the purpose of maintaining employment of eight classroom teachers currently funded by expiring federal COVID-19 grant funds. Since the implementation of the 2018 revised state school funding formula, the Ocean Township School District realized a cumulative loss of state funding of $4.7 million to date. Approval of this question would allow for maintenance of current class size guidelines of less than 28 students per class in grades kindergarten through sixth grade. These expenditures are in addition to those required to achieve New Jersey Student Learning Standards. The approval results in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.

Montgomery Township Schools (Somerset County)APPROVED  – The board of education, which operates with Rocky Hill as a merged district, sought authorization to raise an additional $1,620,152 for general funds in the 2022-2023 school year to provide for a full-day kindergarten program. These taxes would have been used exclusively for additional costs required to provide for a full-day kindergarten program, including additional costs for salaries, benefits and/or other compensation or expenses as required. The approval would have resulted in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.

Secondly, the board sought to raise an additional $669,763 for general funds in the 2022-2023 school year for facilities improvements at the Early Childhood Center formerly known as the Kid Connection Building. These taxes would have been used used exclusively for facilities improvements required for use of the building for the full day pre-kindergarten program. Approval of these taxes would not have resulted in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy. These proposed additional expenditures are in addition to those necessary to achieve the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

Construction Proposals

Statewide, there were 11 boards of education that asked voters to approve construction projects.

The below represents unofficial results as reported by county clerks and via published reports. Total statewide bonding approved and state funding received would change if any of the unofficial results change.

Total statewide bonding amount proposed: $398,658,844
Total statewide bonding approved: $392,798,306

State funding proposed: $127,775,586
State funding approved: $126,904,902

Delran (Burlington County) – The board of education posed two questions to voters.

Question 1 – APPROVED – The board sought authorization to provide for school facilities renovations, alterations and improvements consisting of roof replacement, interior door replacement, ceiling replacement and HVAC and electrical systems construction at Millbridge Elementary School and electrical systems construction at Delran Intermediate School, Delran Middle school and Delran High School, including acquisition and installation of equipment and furnishings and related work and costs; (b) to appropriate $9,298,242 for such purposes and (c) to issue bonds of the school district in the principal amount of $9,298,242. The final eligible costs of the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $9,298,242 (with $6,486,249 allocated to Millbridge Elementary School, $587,014 allocated to Delran Intermediate School, $938,938 allocated to Delran Middle School and $1,286,041 allocated to Delran High School.) The state debt service aid percentage would equal 46.4% of the annual debt service due with respect to the final eligible costs of the project.

Total bonding amount: $9,298,242
State funding: $4,314,384

Question 2 – APPROVED – The board asked voters for authorization to (a)  provide for school facilities renovations, alterations and improvements to provide for ADA compliant bathrooms at Millbridge Elementary School, HVAC controls upgrades at Delran Intermediate School, a new parking lot, additional ceiling replacement and flooring at Delran Middle School and culinary arts facilities improvements at Delran High School, including acquisition and installation of equipment and furnishings and related work and costs and (b) to appropriate $2,759,453 for such purposes and (c) to issue bonds of the school district in the principal amount of $2,759,453. The final eligible costs of the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $2,295,873 (with $325,000 allocated to Millbridge Elementary school, $670,873 allocated to Delran Intermediate School, $520,000 allocated to Delran Middle School and $780,000 allocated to Delran High School.) The state debt service aid percentage would equal 48.4% of the annual debt service aid due with respect to eligible costs of the projects.

Total bonding amount: $2,759,453
State funds: $1,111,203

Downe Township (Cumberland County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization to renovate and to upgrade the heating ventilation and air-conditioning system, and to replace windows at Downe Township Elementary School, including the acquisition and installation of fixtures, furniture, equipment and any site work; and (b) to appropriate $3,977,066, and to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $3,977,066. The final eligible costs for the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $3,977,066.

Total bonding amount: $3,977,066
State funds: $1,590,827

Lawrence Township (Cumberland County) – REJECTED – The board of education sought authorization to undertake various improvements, alterations, renovations and upgrades and to construct an addition at Myron L. Powell Elementary School, including the acquisition and installation of fixtures, furniture, equipment and any site work; and (b) to appropriate $5,860,538, and to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $5,860,538. The final eligible costs for the projects approved by the commissioner of education were $1,478,140. The state debt service aid percentage would have equaled 58.9040% of the annual debt service due with respect to the final eligible costs of the projects.

Total bonding amount: $5,860,538
State funds: $870,684

Montclair Township (Essex County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization to provide for renovations, alterations and improvements at Montclair High School, George Innes High School Annex, Buzz Aldrin Middle School, Glenfield Middle School, Renaissance at Rand Middle School, Bradford Elementary School, Charles H. Bullock School, Edgemont Elementary School, Hillside Elementary School, Nishuane Elementary School, Northeast Elementary School, Watchung Elementary School, Montclair Pre-K School, Woodman Field and the Administration Building, an addition at Renaissance at Rand Middle School and a new greenhouse at Charles H. Bullock School, including acquisition and installation of equipment and furnishings, site work and related work and costs; (b) to appropriate $187,730,769 for such purposes and (c) to issue bonds of the school district in the principal amount of $187,730,769.

The final eligible costs of the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $172,081,968.

Total bonding amount: $187,730,760
State funds: $68,832,787

Clearview Regional High School District (Gloucester County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization to undertake various improvements, alterations, renovations, upgrades and field improvements to Clearview Regional High School, and various improvements, alterations, renovations and upgrades to Clearview Regional Middle School, including acquisition and installation of fixtures, furniture, equipment and any site work; and (b) to appropriate $59,094,000, and to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $59,094,000. The final eligible costs for the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $58,014,000 (consisting of $38,925,000 for Clearview Regional High School and $19,089,000 for Clearview Regional Middle School).

Total bonding amount: $59,094,000
State funds: $23,205,600

North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School District (Hunterdon County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization (a) to undertake various improvements, alterations, renovations, and upgrades to North Hunterdon High School, including, but not limited to, upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, renovations to the existing locker rooms, physical education offices, toilet facilities and related areas and to replace existing doors and hardware with fire-rated and barrier-free compliant doors and hardware, including acquisition and installation of fixtures, furniture, equipment and any site work; (b) to undertake various improvements, alterations, renovations and upgrades to Voorhees High School, including, but not limited to, upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, replace the chiller pipe, remove and replace the existing exterior concrete and wood stairs, retaining walls and related areas, including acquisition and installation of fixtures, equipment and any site work; and (c) to appropriate $6,500,000, and to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $6,500,000. The final eligible costs for the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $6,500,000 (consisting of $4,878,720 for North Hunterdon High School and $1,621,280 for Voorhees High School).

Total bonding amount: $6,500,000
State funds: $2,600,000

Delaware Township (Hunterdon County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization to undertake the repair or replacement of sections of the roof at Delaware Township Elementary School, including any related work; and (b) to appropri­ate $1,350,000, and to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $1,350,000. The final eligible costs for the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $1,350,000.

Total bonding amount: $1,350,000
State funds: $540,000

Metuchen (Middlesex County) – The board of education asked voters to decide three questions, including one that would permanently increase the district’s tax levy, which is contingent on whether construction questions on the ballot are approved.

Question 1 – APROVED – The first question involved a reconfiguration improvements bond proposal that authorizes the board to (a) provide for additions, renovations, alterations and improvements at Moss Elementary School, Campbell Elementary School, Edgar Middle School and Metuchen High School, including fixtures, furnishings, equipment, site work and related work; (b) to appropriate $71,682,187 for such purposes, including $2,200,000 from the capital reserve, and (c) to issue bonds of the school district in the principal amount of $69,482,187. The final eligible costs of the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $29,816,978 (with $9,910,468 allocated to Moss Elementary School, $6,200,344 allocated to Campbell Elementary School, $4,259,924 allocated to Edgar Middle School and $9,446,242 allocated to Metuchen High School.) The cost of the projects includes $377,520 allocated to Moss Elementary School, $26,455 allocated to Campbell Elementary School, $2,120,690 allocated to Edgar Middle School, and $2,204,345 allocated to Metuchen High School for elements in addition to the facilities efficiency standards developed by the commissioner of education or not otherwise eligible for state support pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7G-5(g).

Total bonding amount: $69,482,187
State funding: $11,926,791

Question 2 – APPROVED – The second question involved a proposal to raise an additional $800,000 for general funds in the 2022-2023 school year. These taxes will be used exclusively for additional costs required for the school district grade-level reconfiguration, including full-day kindergarten, additional costs for salaries, benefits and/or other compensation or expenses as required. The approval results in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy. These additional expenditures are in addition to those necessary to achieve the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

Question 3 – APPROVED – The board of education also asked voters to approve a high school gym addition bond proposal authorizing it (a) to provide for an additional gym and related facilities at Metuchen High School, including field and athletic facilities improvements, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, site work and related work; (b) to appropriate $12,754,038 for such purposes and (c) to issue bonds of the school district in the principal amount of $12,754,038. The final eligible costs of the project approved by the commissioner of education are $1,008,403. The cost of the project includes $2,851,706 for elements in addition to the facilities efficiency standards developed by the commissioner of education or not otherwise eligible for state support pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7G-5(g).

Total bonding amount: $12,754,038
State funding: $403,361

If all three proposals are approved as unofficial results show, the board of education would be authorized to undertake school capital projects for a total cost of $84,436,225, to spend $2,200,000 from capital reserve and to issue bonds in the total principal amount of $82,236,225 to fund the projects. The aggregate amount of the final eligible costs of the facilities projects approved by the commissioner of education is $30,825,381. The district would be authorized to spend an additional $800,000 in the general fund above the tax levy cap in fiscal year 2022-2023, and the authorization will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.

Monmouth Regional High School District (Monmouth County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization to undertake various improvements, alterations, renovations and upgrades to Monmouth Regional High School, including the athletic facilities, as well as acquisition and installation of fixtures, furniture, equipment and any site work; and (b) to appropriate $15,025,000, and to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $15,025,000. The final eligible costs for the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $10,843,750.

Total bonding amount: $15,025,000
State funds: $4,337,500

Salem (Salem County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought  authorization to (a) undertake various improvements and upgrades to the Salem High School Stadium, including the construction of a concession building and restroom facilities, acquisition and installation of bleachers and a scoreboard, and various utility improvements and upgrades, including the acquisition and installation of fixtures, furniture, equipment and any site work; and (b) to appropriate $2,636,438, and to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $2,636,438. The final eligible costs for the projects approved by the commissioner of education are zero.

Total bonding amount: $2,636,438
State funding: 0

Borough of New Providence (Union County) – APPROVED – The board of education sought authorization to undertake renovations, alterations, upgrades and improvements to the Salt Brook Elementary School, the Allen W. Roberts Elementary School, and the New Providence Middle School/High School including, for all the foregoing, acquisition and installation of fixtures, furniture, equipment and site work; (b) to appropriate $22,191,122 for such purposes; and (c) to issue bonds of the school district in the principal amount not to exceed $22,191,122.

The final eligible costs of the projects approved by the commissioner of education are $20,106,122, consisting of $4,658,311 allocated to the Salt Brook Elementary School, $6,373,005 allocated to the Allen W. Roberts Elementary School, $1,429,875 allocated to the New Providence Middle School and $7,644,931 allocated to the New Providence High School.

By resolution, the board may appropriate interest earnings, capital reserve or general fund surplus if needed for the projects.

Total bonding amount: $22,191,122
State funds: $8,042,449

Other Ballot Questions

In four districts, voters acted on questions related to school board composition and board type.

Port Republic (Atlantic County) – APPROVED – The board of education asked voters whether the school district should be reclassified from a Type I school district with five members appointed by the mayor to a Type II school district made up of nine board of education members elected by legally qualified voters of the City of Port Republic, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:9-4. Each board member will be elected to a three-year term, with elections for three members occurring during regularly scheduled annual November elections starting the first November after passage of the referendum, and current members remaining until their terms expire. The change from Type I to Type II eliminates the appointed Board of School Estimate, which currently votes on the school budget. Under Type II, the voters will vote on the approval of any budget exceeding a 2% increase from the previous year’s budget (with limited exceptions). Under Type II, the public will also vote on future bonding for school capital projects that exceed the state cap on property tax growth. There will also be other minor technical changes required. To increase the board from a five-member to a nine-member board, a special election will be held to elect additional members.

Stow Creek Township (Cumberland County) – APPROVED – The board of education asked voters whether decreasing the number of its membership from nine members to seven members was in the best interest of Stow Creek Township School District.

Trenton (Mercer County)APPROVED – The board of education asked voters whether it should change from a Type I district appointed by the mayor to a Type II district with its members elected by the voters. If the change is made, the Board of School Estimate would be eliminated, future bonding for capital projects would have to be approved by public referendum, future bonding for capital projects would be based on the credit of the district as opposed to the city, the size of the board of education would increase from seven members to nine, and the­ first election of members of the board of education would take place in April 2023. If approved, there would also be other minor technical changes required that are not set forth herein.

Bedminster Township (Somerset County) – APPROVED – The board asked voters to reduce its members from nine to seven. It believes reducing the number of its members will ease its inability to maintain full membership and solve issues related to obtaining a quorum for meetings.