By Ally Faktor
The BOE voted unanimously on Feb. 7 to move the election of school board members to the general election in November.
The election change came after Governor Chris Christie signed a law on Jan. 17 allowing local school board and budget elections to be moved from April to November.
At the Feb. 7 meeting, BOE member Ann Cary, chair of the legislation committee, said that the committee met three times to discuss moving the elections before the BOE publicly discussed these issues at the meeting on Jan. 24.
According to Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan, one of the benefits of moving the election is that the November date will engage 44 percent of voters, while the current date only engages 18 percent of voters. Additionally, the change will encourage voters to "focus more on education and less on passing the budget." However, Dolan said that one of the cons is that the public is no longer able to vote on the school budget.
The BOE believes that eliminating the vote on the school budget will save taxpayer dollars and that these savings and "the movement of the board member election to November is in the best interest of the Westfield community," according to the BOE minutes from Feb. 7.
Any proposal that exceeds two percent of the tax cap will be presented for voter approval in November, according to state.nj.us. Additionally, the board members elected in November will now take office at the start of January.
According to BOE Member Gary McCready, over 200 school districts have already moved the date of their elections.