The local public schools are an important part of any community — especially so in a town like Bernards Township, where many people move because of the school system.
But although school taxes make up the largest piece of the local property tax pie, traditionally fewer people vote in school elections than in municipal elections — and far less than in presidential votes, where the value of a single vote is dwarfed by comparison. School elections in relatively small New Jersey towns can be won, lost or tied by a single vote.
This Monday, residents have the opportunity to see and hear the Board of Education candidates who will be on the general election ballot in November, since Gov. Christie allowed school elections to be moved from the longtime April schedule.
The League of Women Voters of Somerset County, in cooperation with the Ridge High School Empowerment for Political Participation (REPP), will again host a forum with Bernards Township Board of Education Candidates from 7 to 9 p.m. on Monday the Performing Arts Center at Ridge.
The public is encouraged to attend and participate by both listening and asking questions of the four board candidates who are competing for three available board seats in this November's election.
All four BOE candidates, including incumbents Mike Byrne and Elaine Kusel, along with challengers John Groot and Christopher Viereck, are scheduled to take part, according to an earlier announcement from the school. The seats up for re-election constitute a third of the nine-member school board for Bernards Township's K-12 school district.
The format for each forum will consist of opening and closing statements from each candidate and allowing approximately 60 minutes of questions from the audience.
The League encourages all registered voters to vote in the general election on Tuesday, November 5. The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 15. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot by mail is Tuesday Oct. 29 or Monday, Nov. 4 for those who apply in person, according to the league.
Bernards Township Committee
The Bernards Township Committee is scheduled to meet at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Two of the topics on the agenda are the unveiling of the Swift 9-1-1 emergency notification system, and also a request to site a new wireless communications tower near Haas Road in Basking Ridge.
The request for the wireless communications facility comes from New York SMSA Limited Partnership, also known as Verizon Wireless.
The new notification system is part of Bernards Township's initiative underway this year — with many plans coming to fruition this fall — to continue to prepare the municipality for storm and power outage emergencies.
The municipal courtroom at town hall, which doubles as the main meeting room, is undergoing renovations to increase its usefulness as a warming center, place for recharging electrical devices and also a command center during emergencies such as the situation that occurred when virtually all of the town was left without power after Superstorm Sandy last fall.
The ongoing renovation is why Tuesday's Township Committee again will be held in the lower level of the Bernards Township Library at 32 S. Maple Ave.
However, both the Bernards Township Library and municipal offices will be closed again on Monday in honor of Columbus Day.
And don't forget _ this week is "Spirit Week" at Ridge High School, since schools are open on Monday.
Students are asked to wear tie-dye clothing for the first day of Spirit Week.