Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Commentary on Change to April BOE Elections

David Rutherford has published a post that confirms the school board's decision to move Board of Education elections back to April.

He also mentions Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's desire, expressed at a recent conference of mayors, to have the ability to appoint the superintendent of schools.

As I recall, the only appointive power once held by the mayor was to appoint board members. In Plainfield, the opportunity attracted a large number of candidates, but over the years the number dwindled to a few and I believe there was one year where not even three people filed for the three open seats and the county superintendent had to appoint someone. In 1988, The New York Times reported on the issue of appointed vs. elected board members.

As far as having a mayor name the superintendent, that might require legislation. Also, school board searches for superintendents tend to be exhaustive and costly. The process would have to be examined for all these factors before changing who appoints a superintendent.

It is easy to see why a mayor may be anguished over the state of public schools. Every data base on a municipality includes a rundown on the school system. If home buyers have to factor in the cost of private education when selecting a place to live, the towns with better public schools will win out. Even if schools improve, turning around a decades-long perception is daunting.

Right this minute, the decision to change school board elections from November to April comes at a time when the two major entities in Plainfield, city government and the school district, appear to be at leggerheads over who has the power to do what. In 2012, the governing body used its power to move the election, but under the law had to notify the board of its intention. The board only has to notify the county clerk of its decision 85 days prior to the third Tuesday in April to take effect for the 2016 election. The matter did not appear on the Nov. 17 business meeting agenda as far as I can tell. Let me know if I am wrong.

So now it is a fait accompli with just the whiff of a "gotcha."

There is much more to say about all of this, but the bottom line has to be how Plainfield can change its image from a city fraught with political land mines to one of collegiality among those in charge.



  1. I don't think the BOE should have the right to decide that their elections should be in April. I believe that that should be voted on by the voters of the city. Sounds like the Campbells are working hard to keep their power and influence. They are a blight on the Plainfield school system and I hope people vote for our kids. We know having a separate election will cost the taxpayers a lot and those people who have the day off for elections will vote for the Campbells. It time we take the BOE back or get rid of it totally.

  2. Hey Bob, As you know the Board of Ed is seperate from the city and its politics, and I dont blame the board for not wanting to be a part of City Politics, so why not move it. keep each entity seperate

    1. If you think the Campbells aren't involved in politics you missed those large signs John Jr. had up while running for City Council. Get real!

  3. Anonymous 1:32PM.

    Obviously you are a Campbell fan and/or you don't have any children in the Plainfield school system. And/or you have not read Councilwoman Rebecca Williams blog post regarding the school board elections and what it will cost THE CHILDREN!

    Minimum 115,000 dollars!!!

    Do you realize what $115,000 dollars can buy for a student to learn?

    You are right about keeping Politics out of the schools, but now we have Poli-TRICKS as a part of the school system.

    Three of my children are in the Plainfield school system and that money can be put to good use.


    1. No I am not a Campbell Fan but a fan of our kids and yes I do have children in the school system, so you blame the Campbell's for the cost of educating our children?????? then I guess you can blame them for the rising cost of milk, Gas, and basic needs. oh yes how about the rising cost of college tuition. But to your credit I will read the post by councilwoman Williams.

  4. It’s funny how we point the finger at Assemblyman Jerry Green who’s been in office for 20+ years for the destruction of Plainfield but, not blame board president Wilma Campbell who’s been on the board for 15+ years for our inadequate school system. Now that her seat is up for re-election they hang banners on the High School building to boast about getting their accreditation (that in itself is a shame). It makes you question if under her rule is it going to take another 15 years before we see any other signs of improvement? I don’t believe Plainfield can afford 4 more years of the husband and wife tag team on the school board.