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Debate Ongoing in River Edge Around Moving School Election

Council split on topic while Board members will continue discussion next week

While the and Oradell school districts have decided to move their school elections from April to November, officials in River Edge are still undecided about Gov. Chris Christie's approved legislation.

"The Board had a discussion about this at their last meeting," Councilman Alphonse Bartelloni said. Bartelloni is the liaison between the council and the and school districts. "The sense I got was that some members are dubious about Gov. Christie's motiviations in supporting and changing it and others were worried about taking away the citizen's right to vote."

Board of Education member Paris Myers confirmed that the board is split about moving the election.

"It's a trade off," Bartelloni said. "By losing the change to vote on the budget it would shine more light on who is running and on the Board of Education."

If all three districts were to move the school election to November, there would be an estimated $12,000 savings for each district as the cost of the election wold be shared between all of the districts and the two governing bodies.

This past April, the Board of Education saw their school budget, which remained under the hard cap of 2%  by 308 votes. After several public hearings, the Mayor and Council the budget by a 4-2 vote.

"Like Alphonse said, by moving the election to November there is more of an emphasis on who is on the board," Councilman Thomas Papaleo said. "If the schools wanted to go above the 2% then it would go on the ballot for a vote, but if it was defeated the excess would just be removed and the council would no longer review it."

To move the school election to November, either the Board of Education or Mayor and Council would have to approve a resolution in favor of the change, or submit a public referendum to the voters.

"I just feel that in good times when they could go lower than the 2% do we trust the school board to be dilligent and cut more," Council President Paul Cordts said. "The format has always been its the council versus the schools and once you can't vote on it, then you've taken the public out."

The River Edge Board of Education is expected to continue discussing whether or not to move the school elections to November at the Feb. 1, 7:30pm board meeting at Roosevelt School. A decision may be made that evening.

B.Barbagallo January 27, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Mr.Cordts comment is unfounded when it comes to trusting the board of ed to hold the line regarding the budget. It should never be "council vs. the schools", and just because that is the way it was, it can and should change. Aren't budgets all about what is best for the taxpayers and children of the town? Since we don't vote on the municipal budget, does that mean we have taken the public out? Mr. Cordts, why don't you fight for all budgets- both muncipal and schools to be voted on by the residents- that way, the public has a say in your budget and that would bring the voters a great sense of relief. Then when the municipal budget fails, it would go to the Governor to make cuts - sounds reasonable to me.

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