A steady stream of voters — whether young mothers pushing baby carriages, parents with older children in tow, older couples or the after-work crowd dressed in business suits — hit the polls on Wednesday to vote for or against funding this year's school budget. Voters also had a choice among nine candidates, including two incumbents, seeking election to three seats on the Board of Education.
Polls will remain open until 9 p.m. Districts may have been shifted for some voters, and residents are asked to check sample ballots mailed to their homes before arriving at their usual voting locations.
One of the younger voters was Michelle Stevens, 18, a senior at Ridge High School.
"I voted because I have friends who are underclassmen and I wanted to vote," she said as she left the voting location in The Hills. "It would be a shame if they had to go to an eight-period day," Stevens said, referring to an earlier school board decision to this year's nine-period day at the high school to save about $360,000. That decision later was reversed after board members received hundreds of emails opposing the decision, and the district received an unanticipated return of about $780,000 in state aid for 2011-12.
The proposed $74,368,937 tax levy to support next year's school budget is a 2.08 percent increase from 2010-11, according to school figures.
Polls opened at 2 p.m. for the 2011 school election, and right on time, voters already were heading into one of the township's polling locations, the Liberty Corner firehouse on Church Street in Liberty Corner.
Signs of differing opinions were everywhere, be in on the signs around town urging voters to cast either a "no" or "yes" vote for the budget, or the signs erected by school board candidates.
"I thought it was important to support education in the town," said Catherine Costa, as she emerged from the back of the Liberty Corner firehouse. She said she voted to support the budget because, "There's just too many cuts to the budget."
Costa also said she voted for the candidates she feels are "capable" to fill the three open positions on the Board of Education.
On the other hand, Buff Morris, at the same location, said he had just voted because, "I don't want my taxes to go up."
"It's too high," Morris said of the proposed school budget and tax levy for the 2011-12 school year. He said he doesn't like the school budget as proposed.
The Basking Ridge Patch will report on results as soon as they are available. The Patch ran an election wrap-up on Tuesday, as well as previous stories on candidates and the budget.
Voting locations are as follows:
- Ridge Oak Senior Housing—District 3
- Bernards Township Library—Districts 1 and 6
- Basking Ridge Firehouse—Districts 2 and 7
- Liberty Corner Firehouse—Districts 12 and 14
- Fellowship Village—Districts 16 and 20
- Hills Recreation Center—Districts 4, 21, 22, 23 and 24
- Bernards Township Community Center—Districts 9, 10 and 17
- Society Hill at Bernards II Clubhouse—Districts 13 and 18
- Somerset Hills Lutheran Church—Districts 5 and 8
- Spring Ridge Clubhouse—Districts 11, 15 and 19
- Note: The new District 4 votes at the Hills Recreation Center.