North Bergen has decided not to join the state-wide trend to move Board of Education elections to November, and Mayor Nicholas Sacco, who is also the assistant superintendent of schools, explained why during the school board meeting last week. Sacco said combining the school board election with the November general election will attract bigger crowds of voters – one of the advantages cited by proponents of the change – but that will require additional voting machines, funded by the county, and more expense.
Proponents of the change have argued holding one election instead of two separate elections will actually save money, but Sacco doesn’t agree.
“There’s talk of people moving their Board of Education elections November,” said Sacco. “They believe that’s saving money, but in many cases you’ll need extra machines.
“County [funding] isn’t free,” Sacco continued. “You pay county taxes, so we’ll be paying for that.”
Districts throughout New Jersey were given the opportunity to move school board elections to November by a bill signed into law on Jan. 17. The same legislation also allows districts to forgo a public vote on the school budget as long as their increased tax levy – the total raised from local taxation – remains below 2 percent over the previous year. Jersey City and Hoboken recently voted to move their school board elections to November.
“We’ve saved millions of dollars over the budget once it’s been defeated.” – Nicholas Sacco
Although members of the public did not voice their opinion during last week’s hearing, voters historically turn down the Board of Education budgets for the district every year. The Board of Commissioners must then decide whether more cuts can be made before they vote and approve the budget and its tax levy.
Sacco said that the district typically makes cuts after the budget is turned down
“We’ve saved millions of dollars over the budget once it’s been defeated,” said Sacco, adding that the town will continue to save by keeping the elections in April. “We’ll save a lot more, I believe, once we cut parts of the budget out.”
Three school board members are also running for reelection unopposed: Maurena Luzzi, Julio Marenco, and Ruth Shaw.
Retirees and updates
The Board of Education authorized the resignation of several longtime teachers. Marie Mirabelli, Ledis Gazic, Marianne Ferreira, Carl Roccasecca, and Donna Trottere will resign at the end of the school year, effective July 1.
A resolution was passed authorizing the submission of a grant application for the 2012 Safety Grant Program in the amount of $49,787. Somick said that the grant would be used for updates in Robert Fulton School.
“[We will be] fixing one of our fire alarm systems in Robert Fulton School,” said Somick. “That’s the one that is most dated.”
A resolution was also passed awarding an $11,000 contract to D&G Landscaping Inc. The company will be responsible for the maintenance of the lawns and landscaping at North Bergen High School and the adjacent Board of Education offices.
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at email@example.com.