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Borough Beeswax: Buzzing About School Board Elections and the 2% Cap

What does Collingswood think about consolidating the school board and general elections?

A new state law allows school districts to move their school board elections to November, from April, and keep the school district budget off of the ballot, provided the spending plan doesn't exceed a 2 percent increase.

Proponents call it a way to save money by combining elections and to possibly increase voter turnout for school board elections. Some critics have decried removing direct voter input from the school budget—usually the largest chunk of taxpayers' tax bills. 

Last week, Collingswood's school board vote to move the elections. Borough Beeswax asked Collingswood residents and visitors for their thoughts on the impact of this issue.

“If it saves money, I would be for it,” said Audubon mother Kelly Paoli.

Paoli, who says she votes in school board elections, thinks voters who don’t usually turn out “would make the time to go” if Board of Education candidates were added to the general ballot.

Sam Shin, who recently moved to Collingswood from Philadelphia, agreed with her logic.

“Seems like it makes sense,” Shin said.

“As far as I understand, they’ll still have meetings and people can have input on the budget,” said Collingswood resident Francesca Vassalluzzo, who confesses that she’s “not really good about” remembering to vote for school board elections.

“It would make it easier to do it at the same time,” she said.

Condensing the school board and general elections “seems to simplify things,” said Marlton resident Elijah Smith, who believes that combined elections would elicit “a variety of input.”

“One-stop shopping,” said his wife, Tracey.

Jaclyn Bazan of Woodbury expressed relief at the prospect that her school district budget could be preserved without running the gauntlet of a public referendum.

Bazan said that in her town, the April school board elections are popular with “senior citizens and people who want to vote it down” almost exclusively.

The anti-tax climate has directly affected her daughter Mia’s classroom, Bazan said, where she’s seen “things dwindle” and “amazing teachers laid off.”

“A lot of people claim to support schools, but don’t get out to do it,” she said.

Bill Jaworski of Medford had the opposite view. Although the public school budget is one of the last remaining referendums in local politics, Jaworski believes it should still be put to the vote.

“I think we should be able to vote on the budget even within 2 percent,” he said. “What else can they take away from us?”

libsrsic January 29, 2012 at 01:35 PM
"Anti-tax climate"=over burdened citizens whose incomes are not keeping up with tax increases=1/2 the entire population of the United States.
Jaclyn Bazán January 29, 2012 at 07:49 PM
May I just clarify that my support was exclusively with moving the school vote to November to increase turnout and the variety of concerned citizens. I do not support altogether removing the budget from the ballot. I believe taxpayers should have full disclosure. - Jaclyn Bazan
Shirley January 29, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Having input on the budget at a school board meeting is not the same as having the opportunity to vote on it. I am very unhappy about not being able to vote on the budget. I don't understand why citizens do not exercise their right to vote. Many seem to be quite happy to gripe about the outcome of an election but are unable to shift their arses to vote and make a difference. Being too busy is not an excuse. What other rights are you willing to give up because you're too busy?
Sean Andrew January 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM
At least every penny of my school tax goes to my own community. Why do folks get all worked up about the school budget vote, but no one pushes for a vote on the municipal, county, state, or federal budget? No one loves taxes, but I'd rather let my elected neighbors, all volunteers, decide how to spend my tax money than some elected yo-yo in Trenton or DC. What percentage of our federal tax money comes back to our own community or even our state? Let's vote on that...
Sean Andrew January 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Wow! This is not what the article says at all. It says quite the opposite.
Porterincollingswood January 30, 2012 at 01:17 PM
A ton of federal tax dollars were used by Rick Perry to plug a gaping hole in his state's education budget. You and I essentially fund those schools. But you don't hear about that because it doesn't further the conservative narrative.
Jaclyn Bazán January 31, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Sean: My comments on the street could have been construed that way, as meant that it would be best to have also the BUDGET vote in November. I guarantee it would pass being that more parents would be involved as opposed to those who generally come out to reject it in the spring. I understand their reasons, as they have been grossly misled by officials to believe that schools and the impoverished shelter the blame. My children now to go to a school where the Spanish teacher was replaced by a computer. It is outrageous. So, yes, I think there should always be a school budget vote due to the fact that it is the largest chunk of property taxes in my particular district, but I think it should be held at a time to ensure better turnout. I for one am willing to pay $20.00 more year to secure a full-time nurse or talented teacher. Education was once viewed as a matter of national security a few decades ago, and now it is viewed as a pointless “burden.” It upsets me and I found that I actually censored myself on the street so as to not sound like an overzealous “tax loving radical hippie.” Do I particularly enjoy my $5,000 annual taxes on an *extremely* small residence in a city with minute business revenue? No. But I and most parents are willing to shoulder a portion of the burden for our children if our representatives are not willing to properly tax millionaires.
Jeff Stern January 31, 2012 at 05:45 PM
"But I and most parents are willing to shoulder a portion of the burden for our children if our representatives are not willing to properly tax millionaires." Surely you have misspoken again. You must have meant "if our representatives are not willing to over-tax job creators." Go capitalism!
Sean Andrew January 31, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Jaclyn - I agree with what you said on the street and in this last post, except for the Spanish thing. I learned much more Spanish online than from 6 years of Spanish in HS and college. I got all As and Bs and couldn't speak a lick. I guess it depends how you learn, but OUTRAGEOUS it is not.

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