The Montclair School Board Election is Approaching: What You Need to Know

MONTCLAIR, NJ — A historic school board election is approaching in Montclair, and the stakes are high, officials say.

Montclair voters passed a historic school referendum in the 2021 general election. The city was one of the last in New Jersey where mayors appoint local Board of Education members, as opposed to voters electing them. But following last November’s referendum, Montclair will now transition to an elected school board.

Montclair will hold a special election on March 8 to select two new board members. According to a statement from the League of Women Voters of the Montclair area, the candidates include:

  • Yvonne Bouknight
  • Melanie Deysher
  • Phaedra Dunn
  • jerold frier
  • Noah Gale
  • Lauren Q. Griffin
  • Holly Shaw
  • George C. Simpson
  • Jennette L. Williams

After that, annual competitions for three seats will be held each November, starting this year on November 8, when three seats are up for grabs.

Recently, the Essex County Clerk’s Office released a guide for Montclair voters who want to participate in the upcoming school board elections. It is visible online here. Find your local polling station here.

Important dates to remember include:

1ST ELECTION TO THE SCHOOL BOARD

  • Tuesday, March 1 – Last day for request a postal vote by email
  • Monday, March 7 at 3 p.m. – Last day to request an absentee ballot in person or by authorized courier
  • Tuesday March 9 – election day

ELECTION OF THE 2ND SCHOOL BOARD

  • Monday, July 25 at 4 p.m. – Deadline to file petitions for the November 8, 2022 election
  • Tuesday, November 1 – Last day to request a postal vote by mail
  • Monday, November 7 at 3 p.m. – Last day to request an absentee ballot in person or by authorized courier
  • Tuesday 8 November – election day

According to the Essex County Clerk’s Office, here’s what local voters need to know about the upcoming election:

“Montclair voters have decided to move from a Type 1 Appointed School Board to a Type 2 Elected School Board. The first step in the process is for the Township of Montclair to hold a special election on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, d to elect two members of the School Board and to increase the School Board of the Township of Montclair from seven to nine members. The two members of the School Board being elected in the special election of Tuesday, March 8, 2022 will be elected for one year and nine- Petitions to be presented for each office will be available at the Montclair Public School office, 22 Valley Road, or can be downloaded at: www.montclair.k12.nj.us. The deadline to submit petitions to the Montclair Public School office is Monday, January 17, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. (10 qualified signatures are required on the petition to be eligible).

The Registrar’s Office said:

“Montclair voters decided to move the annual school board elections to the November general election ballot to save the township approximately $70,000 a year by avoiding having the school board hold the elections every April. “

After the special election in March, there will be another election in November, according to the clerk’s office.

Officials explained:

“In the general election on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, three school board members will be elected for a three-year term. These elected school board members will replace three of the current appointed school board members whose terms are expiring. The petition deadline is Monday, July 25, 2022. These petitions will be available at the Essex County Clerk’s Office at 495 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Newark, 07102, Suite 130 or on the County Clerk’s website of Essex at: www.essexclerk.com.”

Another election will follow in November 2023, officials said:

“There will be three additional school board members elected to three-year terms at the general election on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. These three members elected at the November general election will replace the two members elected from November 8, 2023. March 2022, special election and one appointed member of the school board whose term expires. The deadline for petitions is Monday, July 31, 2022. These petitions will be available at the Essex County Clerk’s Office at 495 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd ., Newark, 07102, Suite 130 or on the Essex County Clerk’s website at: www.essexclerk.com.”

“The terms of the remaining three appointed school board members will expire at the end of 2024 and three school board members will be elected in the November 5, 2024 general election,” the clerk’s office said.

“At that time, the Montclair Township School Board will have nine elected school board members,” the clerk’s office said. “Each year after 2024, the people of Montclair Township will elect three members to the school board for three-year terms.

GET TO KNOW THE CANDIDATES

Montclair Councilman Peter Yacobellis recently encouraged other local voters to “take the time to learn” about the candidates and their positions.

Yacobellis offered a list of upcoming events and forums that might be helpful:

  • February 17 (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) – League of Women Voters/NAACP Candidates Forum. Tomorrow night, the League of Women Voters and the Montclair Chapter of the NAACP will host a key forum for candidates. here is the link for Zoom recording; it will also be broadcast on TV34, YouTube and Radio Free Montclair. Questions can be submitted in advance by emailing: VoterServices@lwvmontclairarea.org.
  • February 27 (7:30 p.m.) – On February 27, the Montclair Clergy Association will host a School Board Candidates Forum. (Click here for recording.)
  • February 28 – Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) Candidate Forum – Stay Tuned their website for more details.
  • Montclair PTA Council (PTAC) Candidate questionnaires – here is the link for the responses that the nine candidates provided to questions from the Montclair PTA Board.

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