Toms River Moves School Board Election to November

Residents will vote for candidates in November, but budget question off ballot

Toms River will hold its school board elections in November, and the annual budget question previously left in voters’ hands will now be voted by the school board itself.

voted 6-3 Thursday night to use a new state law allowing districts to move the April election to the November general election. The law comes with the stipulation that school districts must keep their budget increase at less than 2 percent each year.

In doing so, the comes off the ballot. At an unusually crowded, special school board meeting — with more than 150 in attendance — held at Toms River High School South Thursday, most in attendance said they were in opposition to losing the right to vote on the school budget.

The meeting had about 20 residents speak on the only agenda item: the November election issue, sharing their thoughts on the impact to such things as voter turnout, school board transparency, existing tax bills, personal budgets, partisan politics and taxpayer oversight.

At one point, a resident called on everyone in the room who was in support of keeping to stand up and raise their hand, and all but about 20 did.

Those in support of the move to November said the impact would be increased voter turnout and more convenient voting hours.

Amid the vocal support from the audience — who at times heckled the board or erupted in applause and ovation of speakers — the decision of whether to move the election would ultimately fall to the school board. Three board members voted against the measure: Ben Giovine, Alex Pavliv and Loreen Torrone.

The six voting for the measure are Ed Gearity, Tom Baxter, John Reuther, Gus Kakavas, Jamie Ann Jubert and Michael Jedziniak.

Torrone first asked the board to table the measure. She said a "wait and see" approach was what the district needed.

"We'll be stuck with this for four years," Torrone said. Her motion failed to pass, with the same voting lines as would happen for the next motion, the question of whether to move the election.

Four board members offered comments as they gave their vote. Jubert, Kakavas, Gearity, Jedziniak and Baxter simply said "yes," while Reuther said he was voting yes to increase voter turnout.

"Ten percent come out to vote in the April election," Reuther said. In comparision, the coming November, with its presidential election, could have 70 percent. "We have an opportunity to expand the citizen process. ... No one disputes the fact more citizens will be involved in school vote in November. I do not fear that, I welcome that."

Torrone said her no vote was a vote on the side of caution.

"We need more time to study this, I feel it's trying to be rushed through," she said. "Let's be a little prudent."

Previously, Business Administrator Bill Doering said the move to November could also have a cost savings of $100,000 for the district, the cost of running an election.

Pavliv said he hoped the district would continue to find savings even greater than $100,000 elsewhere in the entire school budget.

"I hope you’ll all be consistent in saving money for taxpayers," Pavliv said, adding that he has asked the district to sell off its Cafe@1144, the eatery in the administration office that had a $250,000 shortfall.

Ultimately, for him the law allowing the change to November was too vague to vote yes.

"This bill passed three weeks ago," Pavliv said. "There's no interpretive statement with it... I don't know what to make of this bill. I see no harm in voting an additional year."

Giovine said he reiterated many points in an op-ed he submitted earlier in the week, saying he feared the move was taking away voter's ability to decide their own taxes.

"This is billions of dollars you will lose the right to vote on," Giovine said. "I don’t feel comfortable taking that right away."

He said the unique issues of a school district will be clouded among the multiple partisan contests that go on in a November election.

"There was a candidates debate hosted by the League of Women Voters, attended by 125 people," Giovine said of last April's school board race. "The freeholders held a candidate debate for November and 37 people showed up."

After the meeting, Board President Gearity said he understands a lot of the fears expressed by the audience, such as growing taxation. He said that while the budget will not be in the hands of voters, he has faith the board and the administration will make wise financial decisions.

"I have faith in Bill Doering. He accounts for every penny spent," Gearity said. 

Superintendent Frank Roselli after the meeting said he welcomed all the comments said at the meeting and said the administration has worked hard to be open with the budget process.

In addition to the annual budget hearing, the district holds a budget presentation. Previously additional presentations were given to community groups and homeowner's associations. Roselli said much of that will still continue.

"People need to have accurate information, that's healthy," Roselli said of the turnout that night. "It's up to us to do our jobs well, to build credibility, to show the public we're making sound decisions on their behalf and that's what we'll continue to do."

Toms River Regional joins many other districts in Ocean County who have elected to make the switch. Gearity said the districts who have still not voted, or voted no, are Lakewood and Southern Regional.

Ken G February 10, 2012 at 12:45 PM
How will the 2012-2013 Budget be voted on then?
Catherine Galioto (Editor) February 10, 2012 at 12:48 PM
The school board members will vote on it. If the budget has a greater than 2 percent increase, it will be before voters, but it's otherwise in the hands of the nine school board members now.
Ken G February 10, 2012 at 01:25 PM
So The budget for next year will actually be voted on in Novemeber?
TRWatch February 10, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Ah, the Ritacco 6 strike again. Dont't believe Reuther for a second, he voted yes because he was told to vote yes.
Overseer1 February 10, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Amazing, The Ritacco 6 vote themselves King - If this board wanted to try and regain the public to trust the remaining 6 of the failing Ritacco regime they would have at the very least put to a public vote, which was an option, but knew it would fail to meet their selfish agendas. A very sad day for the taxpayers of Toms River. The remaining SIX should start clearing their desks now as they will be voted OUT.
copperpot February 10, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Great reporting Catherine! Love this site!
Mike L February 10, 2012 at 03:48 PM
The People of Toms River Lost last night......we lost all the right to vote for monies that will be used in the future for the school. The Cap is a sham, look at what the township did after the 2 percent cap budget was approved, they put out a 12 million Bond for items that should have been in the regular budget. How do you think the bonds are going to be paid for and interest? Now the Board of Freeholder has put out there Budget and the Fire Commissions are again at it. Slam it to us again and Toms River will become a ghost town. It was obvious that a last night meeting was already voted on before they hit the floor. Even if they just went by the comments from the audience they should have voted the opposite way. We LOST and LOST big!!!!
Spock's Brain February 10, 2012 at 04:00 PM
The Ritacco 6 Strike Again. Don't forget their names. Up for Reelection in November 2012 John Reuther – Toms River Gus Kakavas – Toms River Jamie Ann Jubert – South Toms River Up for Reelection in November 2013 Tom Baxter – Toms River Edward F. Gearity - Beachwood Michael A. Jedziniak – Pine Beach
Spock's Brain February 10, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Your right to vote on the budget has been taken away. The new law says that as long as they stay under the 2% cap, there is no budget vote. The problem is that the 2% cap is so full of loopholes that they can raise our school taxes about 10% without a budget vote. Mark my words. There will never again be a vote on the School Budget in Toms River. Shame on the Ritacco 6
Catherine Galioto (Editor) February 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Thanks copperpot, hope to file some more on the issue in the coming days.
Tired of the status quo February 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
The reason why Jack Reuther voted for this is because after he voted NO on the reappointment of Gilmore/Monahan he was taken off the Toms River Planning Board. Well, something must have been said to him about him going out of step with the rest of the Ritacco 6 and he must have said his Mayacopa Mayacopa and he was "surprise" put back on the Toms River Planning Board. Anytime after his "no" vote he has NEVER stepped out of lock step with the remaining Ritacco 6. Also, voters out here on the Patch blog remember that Dr. Bagic came out in support of moving the election and rumor has it that she is going to be running again for a seat on the BOE. For anyone who doesn't know this but, she is buddy buddy with Mr. Ritacco Junior otherwise known as Frank Roselli. So PLEASE all of the TRRSD taxpayers remember the people who took away our Constitutional Right to vote!!! The is an abomination that these people think that they can trample on our Constitution and get away with it. Please EVERYONE who feel that we have been shafted call the Governors office, the Department of Education and our elected officials in Trenton and tell them how much of and atrocity this is. Also, come November PLEASE remember to come out and vote the Ritacco 3 out this year and the other Ritacco 3 in 2013. We also need to find a way to rid our school district of Mr. Roselli, Mr. Hauerstein, Mrs. McKenna and Mr. Pizza ASAP!!!!!
Bottom Line February 10, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Where are all the people accusing the 3 new board members of being in the pocket of local "powers that be." It should be clear by this article that the Ritacco 6 do NOT have the interests of the taxpayers at heart & in the pocket of King George. The future of our district and taxes should be decided by PEOPLE not POLITICS. I will certainly work to vote out ANY politician that continues to disenfranchise the TR voters. Gus....Jack...I am looking straight at you!
1stcav February 10, 2012 at 08:58 PM
" He was told how to vote ???" Bye who ??? He does where big boy pants doesn't he ???..Republican Club ??? Ah the machine at work in TR...Boss Hog and friends..
1stcav February 10, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Gus, Jack have been goose stepping all along , don't know how either can hold there head up high after all that HAS come out and all that will at there " Friends " trial !!
Ken February 11, 2012 at 04:41 AM
I just hope that people will be smart enough to vote these 6 out when they run for re-election. You can see they do not care how the tax payers feel, it is all about them. Remember the 6 of them when your tax bills come in. We need new BOE members who are just not out for themselves, their party and the all the connections they have in the school. I believe if you run you should not be related to anyone who works for the school system or who has any type of contracts with the school.
CoryJansen February 11, 2012 at 02:30 PM
CoryJansen February 11, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Does anyone know what current school board members have family working in the school district? Some on the board have been around and under Rotacao for a long period of time.
Bottom Line February 11, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Baxter, Kakavas, Gearity and Jubert all have conflicts....
The Hound February 11, 2012 at 06:32 PM
There is a
Greg February 11, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I know that these people are not on the school board but, we just want you to know that the "puppet master" Frank Roselli has at a very conservative number of 11 family members in the district and Jim Hauenstein has his wife at Silver Bay.


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