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Bayonne Board of Education could move future elections to April

A resolution will likely be voted on at the March 24 meeting

Trustee Michael Alonso has introduced a resolution to move the Board of Education election to April.

The Bayonne Board of Education may move its 2021 election date back to April. Currently, the election for the Board of Education lines up with other elections in November.

The resolution, drafted by Trustee Michael Alonso, would create a referendum on the matter. If approved, the question of moving the election date would be put on the November ballot.

The election was originally held in April until changed at the recommendation of newly inaugurated Mayor James Davis. Prior to the November 2014 election, the Bayonne Board of Education was appointed not elected. That year, voters in the city went to the polls to declare their support for the idea in a referendum.

As a result, the Bayonne School District was changed from Type I to Type II, which established an elected Board of Education. According to state statute, School Board Elections are held in the month of April by default. Upon creation of the elected Board of Education in 2014, the election date was slated for April.

However, before an April election ever took place, Mayor Davis petitioned the Board of Education to change the election date to November. According to Davis in 2014, a spring election would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses.

“Unfortunately, the addition of an April election means additional, and currently anticipated, costs,” Davis said in 2014. “In Bayonne’s case, the associated costs of an additional election are estimated to be anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 per year.”

In order to curb costs, the state allowed boards of education to move their default April election to November.

Davis recommended that the Bayonne Board of Education move the election and that the city council pass a concurring resolution supporting the move from April to November.

As a result, the board of education election has been in November since 2014.

Another election?

At the meeting, Alonso argued that board of education elections shouldn’t be influenced by other elections on the city, state, and federal levels.

The move could also potentially give voters a say in the adoption of the board of education budget in June.

Despite the pros of the new proposal, moving the election back to April could cost the board up to thousands of dollars in funds that would be required to hold an additional election outside of November.

The resolution was tabled at the Feb. 25 Board of Education meeting to be reviewed again at a later meeting in March after President Maria Valado said that the board needed more information on the measure before voting on the matter.

According to the Board of Education, the resolution was slated to be voted on at the March 18. However, that meeting was moved to March 24 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If adopted, the change in the election date wouldn’t take effect until 2021. The new provisions would allow for the current board of education trustees to serve out their full terms.

It appears that the bid to change the election date is a response to the recent board of education election.

As a result of the 2019 election, Trustees Jan Patrick Egan and Lisa Burke won seats. Egan and Burke ran together on a ticket under the slogan “Together We Can,” which was endorsed by Davis and the entire city council.

The two trustees contributed to the change in leadership of the board with Maria Valado being elected president for 2020 by a margin of 5-4.

The next Bayonne Board of Education meeting will take place on March 24 at the Anna J. Herbert Board Meeting Room at 7:30 p.m. at 669 Avenue E.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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