One week from today, the board of education will decide and, in the process, remove voters’ ability to vote on the school budget.
Board President Don Mishler said the board is taking a number of factors into consideration as it weighs the pros and cons of making the change.
On the pro side, according to a newsletter on the district website, the district spends roughly $20,000 annually to hold elections in April. While the district would be responsible for chipping in a share of the general election cost, it would certainly be less than $20,000. Also, moving the election to November would presumably increase voter turnout.
As for the cons, taking away voters’ ability to vote on the budget (as long as its under the 2 percent cap)—thereby removing the threat of a rejected budget—has the potential to impact how future boards approach the budget process.
“Will having the ability to achieve an automatic approval of a 2 percent increase diminish a board of education’s commitment to financial prudence?” the newsletter asks.
For a complete list of the pros and cons (according to the district), view the PDF attached to this story.
School board candidate Brandon Pugh said if the board’s going to make the change, it should wait until next year since the campaign season has already begun for the April election.
“I can’t think of another election that’s been moved 6 months back in the middle of an election season,” Pugh told the board Tuesday night. “It’s more appropriate to consider this in November or December.”
“Unfortunately, the governor wasn’t thinking about you when he signed this,” Mishler responded.
While collectively the board has not taken an official stance, and most of the members kept their opinions to themselves, Board Member Kevin O’Sullivan said he prefers keeping the election in April.
“For the simple reason it’s the one time voters get to vote on the budget,” he said. “I feel like taxpayers have a good voice on that and I don’t want to take it away from them.”
The board meets Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week to interview in executive session. At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, following the closed-door session, the board will take action on the proposed changes to the election. The board meets in the .