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Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe.

Fulop pulls Jersey City school board referendum

Mayor: ‘the world is a very different place today than it was in January’

By David Wildstein, May 05 2020 8:56 am

Jersey City will drop a controversial plan to end the direct election of local school board members and replace them with a Board of Education appointed by the mayor, the Hudson County View has reported.

Voters were being asked to approve the change in a November citywide referendum.

“The world is a very different place today than it was in January when we approved the referendum,” said Mayor Steven Fulop, who had backed the proposal.  “We still have major concerns with the Board of Education’s decision to raise taxes on residents during the pandemic, but the reality is we don’t want to be more disruptive to the schools when they return in September after being closed for months.”

The move allows Fulop and the city council to avoid a potentially divisive election  where the coronavirus pandemic has changed political landscapes in many places.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday that public schools in New Jersey would remain closed through the end of the current school year.

Hudson County has been hit especially hard by COVID-19, with 15,881 positive cases and 845 days.

Among the deaths was Michael Yun, a Jersey City councilman from The Heights.

It is not immediately clear if the appointed school board initiative will return in 2021, when Fulop and the entire city council are on the ballot.  They have a year to make that call.

Fulop has had some success taking issues directly to the voters.

His 2019 initiative to place considerable limitations on short-term rentals like Airbnb passed with 69% of the vote in referendum.  More than $3 million was spent by the two sides combined.

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