Township council preempted the board of education Thursday night by voting to move school elections to November.
Council came to the decision after learning that keeping the election in April would more than likely wind up costing the school district—and potentially taxpayers—significantly more than past elections.
In the past, the county ran school elections and spread the cost (about $300,000 last year, according to Board President Don Mishler) between all 39 districts. Prior to council’s vote Thursday, only three districts had opted to keep their elections in April: Moorestown, Pemberton and Palmyra.
Mishler, who spoke before council Thursday, said the district, despite its best efforts, didn’t have hard numbers about how much more it might cost to keep the election in April. But given that the cost would be distributed between only three districts, with Moorestown bearing the greatest share because it has the most registered voters, he said it was likely the increase would be substantial.
“Without any assurance as to what it’s going to be, we’ve become less comfortable with … our decision,” said Mishler.
The Moorestown board of education voted at the beginning of the month to keep its election in April. Mishler was among those who voted against moving the election. In light of the concern over the potentially increased cost, the board planned to hold a last-minute meeting this morning to reconsider its earlier vote.
Council’s vote Thursday however, rendered moot whatever decision the board would have made. The legislation permitting the school election shift—which at the same time permits districts to remove the school budget from voter consideration (as long as it remains under the 2 percent cap)—allows municipal governments to decide unilaterally to move the election.
“The likelihood that the cost could increase significantly was enough that I thought we had to revisit this as a council,” said Mayor John Button.
Township council voted 4-0 in favor of moving the election, with Councilman Mike Testa abstaining because he wanted to see how the board would vote.
However, once the vote was taken, Mishler said he would cancel the board’s meeting scheduled for Friday morning.
“Knowing the five people that were gathering tomorrow (Friday), I don’t think the decision would have been any different from the one council just made,” he said.
With the date of the election now changed, school board candidates have until the 64th day preceding the November election to submit a nomination petition to the board secretary. The election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Current board members whose seats would have expired in April will remain in office until January.
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