Saturday, February 04, 2012

School Board Eliminates Voters from Budget Process

Most school board elections in New Jersey are or were typically held in the spring and voter turnout rarely topped 15 percent. People involved in the school system sometimes devised clever tricks to involve kids in getting their parents to show up and vote yes on the budget but by and large, it was widely understood that if the vote were simply held on the general election day in November then people would be far more willing to show up and vote.

And so let it be written, so let it be done. School elections have been moved to November for nearly all of the Hunterdon County districts. Is that really worthy of a news story? The Hunterdon Democrat thought so and ran this headline, "County's school elections moved". Snooze.

But the Democrat didn't focus on the important part of the story: that the school budget is to be automatically approved every year without voter consent, and is likely to include a two percent annual increase. This guarantees the budget will never be cut. One might think a journalist - or any of the four different reporters involved in this piece - would consider this the real news story. Hopefully, they weren't trying to hide this from the voters, who already pay the highest state and local taxes in the country. This is the letter I sent to the Democrat:

Per the story at and the headline from the Observer, "County's school elections moved", this is either intentionally deceptive or simply less than the stellar reporting I'd come to expect from the Democrat. The issue worthy of Renee's and your other reporters' efforts isn't that the date was moved - obviously it always made sense to vote for the school board positions and the school budget at the same time as we vote to fill other positions. What makes this an important story is that the school budget approval is to be automatically approved without consent of the voters, as far as I can tell from the story. I cannot comment on the legality or potential illegality of this move but it ensures that the budget can never be cut and will always increase by at least two percent per year. If the Democrat ever resumes a role as watchdog of the government on behalf of the people, please let me know and I'll renew my subscription.
Paul Entin
Bethlehem Twp.

If anyone could comment on any illegality involved, it would be appreciated.

Thanks to the Democrat's Curtis Leeds for the paper's editorial stand against the removal of the voters from the budget process.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...