Governor Signs School Board Election Clean-up Legislation

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Governor Chris Christie signed legislation, S-2086 / A-3424 (Whelan, Greenwald, Singleton), December 27, which changes the deadline for filing nominating petitions for school board candidates to the last Monday in July.  The new law also revises procedures for filing school board candidate vacancy and other election procedures.  The new legislation is a housekeeping measure in response to the 2012 law that allowed school districts to move their annual elections from the third Tuesday in April to coincide with the general election held in November. Since the law's adoption, more than 500 school districts have moved their election dates.

Specifically, the new law changes the deadline for filing petitions of nomination for candidates seeking election as members of boards of education at the November school election from no later than 4 p.m. of the day of the holding of the primary election for the general election to no later than 4 p.m. of the last Monday of July.  The law also provides that the school business administrator will certify to the county clerk no later than the day of the holding of the primary election a statement designating the public offices to be filled at the general election and the number of such offices to be filled.  In addition, the new law:

  • provides that a vacancy created by a declination of nomination or withdrawal or death of a nominee for school board membership must be filled under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 19:13-19.  Under that law, a new petition of nomination must be filed no later than 64 days before the date of the election;
  • clarifies the length of service for a school board member appointed to fill a seat that becomes vacant after the third Monday in July if the annual school election in the district occurs in November;
  • provides that when a person nominated for election to public office at the general election notifies the appropriate election officer at least 70 days before the election, rather than the current 60 days, that he declines the nomination, the nomination will be void;
  • provides that if a municipality determines to move the annual school election, then prior to holding the meeting for the adoption of a resolution to do so, the municipality must provide adequate notice of the meeting to the appropriate board of education; and
  • provides that an election on a proposal to create a new regional school district could be held at the date of the general election.  Current law allows for the proposal to be voted upon only at a special election.

The new law took effect January 1, 2014.