NJ voters to weigh in on school issues

April 20, 2009 4:02:47 PM PDT
School elections are being held tomorrow in the Garden State.

A variety of school-related issues will be decided.

The 7-through-12 Kingsway Regional School District has 22-hundred students from four Gloucester County municipalities. Tomorrow, voters here will be asked to approve an already pared-down budget of 31 million dollars. If they don't approve it, the district will have to make some tough choices.

"If we have to make additional cuts," said Superintendent Ave Altersitz, "what we would be looking at is possibly cutting academic programs and possibly cutting three or four or five teachers."

The second question on the ballot asks voters to restore middle school and freshman sports and the activities bus. Right now, both are on the chopping block.

"I wouldn't want to see the sports go away from the kids," said parent Donna McGraw. "No need for the kids to suffer."

Approving the budget and restoring the proposed cuts does not come without a cost for some. Two of the towns will see their school tax drop slightly. But in Woolwich Township, the average increase will be about 80 dollars a year. While it may not sound like a lot, there is clearly a frustration level that comes with living in a state with the nation's highest real estate taxes.

"Some of the taxes in these newer developments are going up," said parent Barbara Pizzo, "because this is a rural area that's changing. And I happen to live in one of those developments. And my taxes are out of control."

"I had a senior citizen call me today very upset because he can't afford his taxes, and he may have to move," said Altersitz. "I was able to explain to him that his taxes would be going down, so that felt fairly good. But I think for the most part people are just frustrated."

It is that feeling that concerns school officials here and around the state. The school elections represent the only time New Jersey voters have a direct say on a budget and its tax implications.

The school budget and board elections traditionally draw a low turnout, usually about 16 percent. In Woolwich Township the polls are open from 2:00pm till 9:00pm. Polling hours for other towns may vary.

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