Less than fifteen New Jersey municipalities still hold school board elections in April – most have moved to November – but an upscale suburban town in Bergen County, is mulling a switch in the other direction.
The Wyckoff Township Council will discuss a return to April elections – something that would likely result in lower voter turnout and require voter approval of the annual school budget. The school board is opposed to the move.
Wyckoff was among the first wave of New Jersey municipalities to move away from spring elections. They did in in 2012.
So far, just a handful of towns have switched back.
West New York had moved from April to November, but in 2019 voted to return to spring contests. So have Fredon and Montague.
New Jersey passed a law in 2011 that allowed local school boards to hold their elections in November. As an incentive to let more voters participate, the new law waived the requirement of putting the budget up for a vote in a public referendum.
By riding the coattails of a November Election Day, school districts also avoided paying the high cost of a special election.
The last April Wyckoff school board election, in 2011, had a turnout of 19.4%. In November 2012 – a presidential year – turnout was 65.3%. But even a low turnout year like 2019 generated a 30.7% turnout.
As a comparison, an April 2021 school board election in nearby Oakland had voter turnout of 11.8%.