Voters will weigh in

A good indication of whether New Jersey voters have reached the breaking point may be delivered next week on school election day, April 16, when residents head to the polls to vote on the only budget it is within their power to approve or reject.

Garden State residents don’t vote on municipal or county budgets; however, they have the power to approve or reject the budget proposed by their board of education.

In addition to voting on budgets, residents also elect the members of their local school boards.

This year, the increase in property taxes that is being proposed by some local school boards is shocking. In one Middlesex County community, Helmetta, the board is proposing to raise the tax rate by $1.05 per $100 of assessed valuation.

Several factors have combined to lead to this situation. A drop in the value of school district investments combined with a freeze on state aid to local school districts are two reasons property owners will be paying more of the bill.

Despite those economic realities, Central Jersey continues to see an influx of residents who have added hundreds of children to our school districts.

Building schools to keep up with the enrollment boom also accounts for some of the property tax increases.

If school budgets are defeated in record numbers on April 16, local and state political and education leaders will have a clear indication that changes must be made in the way New Jersey funds its system of education.