Jersey City Education Association President Ron Greco said he opposes board of education elections in April due to “abysmal” turnout, as well as explaining why he felt a national superintendent search was never needed during a phone interview.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“[Mayor Steven Fulop] was the main proponent to moving it [BOE elections] to November, he was all over the media with that because he thought it would be a great cost saving initiative,” Greco told HCV over the phone this afternoon.
“I think he wants to move it back to April because it’s extremely low voter turnout which is why most municipalities leave them in November … spring turnout is just so abysmal.”
Last week during a one-on-one interview, Fulop, who was a big proponent of moving the school board of elections from April to November when he was the Ward E councilman in 2012, said he thinks recent tax increases show it’s time for residents to have a say in the budget.
“I think that when we moved it to November, it was a mistake: we thought you would increase voter turnout and ultimately increase accountability because you have increased voter turnout,” he explained on Thursday.
“Nobody would’ve foreshadowed that you would have had a board of ed today that makes these decision with no accountability over their budget. Moving it to April would change that, would give the voters an opportunity to decide that and I think it’s really important.”
In Hudson County, the concept of having school board elections is not unheard of, since that’s already the case in North Bergen, Weehawken, and West New York.
Conversely, Bayonne, Hoboken, Kearny, Secaucus, and Guttenberg all have their BOE races in November, while Union City, East Newark, and Harrison still have appointed boards.
There is currently no official movement to have a referendum to move the Jersey City BOE elections back to the spring, and even if there was, there will still be three seats up for grabs this November regardless.
Greco has also been a vocal supporter of Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. Norma Fernandez, who is expected to have her interim title removed at a special meeting tomorrow.
While some critics have panned the fact that the school board never followed through on a national search, which they said they would do on January 10th – the same day Fernandez succeeded Franklin Walker – Greco said it would’ve been a waste of time and money, though he would’ve supported a search in greater NYC area.
“There’s enough talent in the tri-state area: there’s gotta be someone we can call local that we can hire. Why do we need someone from Timbuktu?,” he said, also noting he would’ve supported having the job posted.
“Do I think Norma is an excellent person for the job? I do, I really do. Her pedigree, I think is unmatched. She is a world of knowledge and has a lot of common sense.”
The Jersey City BOE will convene tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Public School No. 11, also known as Martin Luther King, Jr. school, located at 886 Bergen Ave.