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.