By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN, TALIA WIENER AND JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
news@montclairlocal.news

Montclair residents appear to have overwhelmingly voted to change the district's school system to one with an elected school board.

See an updated post with responses from advocates for both sides of the issue here.

In unofficial results reported by the Essex County Clerk's office around 11:30 p.m. on Election Night Tuesday, 8,187 backed the change to a Type II school system with an elected board — 70.69% of the vote tallied to that point. Just 3,394 voted to keep the current Type I system with a mayor-appointed board.

Some votes are still out — the results as of that point include 31 of the township's 35 voting districts. They don't yet count provisional ballots. They include early votes and mail-in ballots received and counted by Essex County up until that point. As of Monday, the Essex County Clerk’s office had received 2,915 of 5,982 requested mail-in ballots.

But the lead among voters choosing to change the district type appeared insurmountable, even with some votes yet to come in.

Two more seats will be added to the board, for a total of nine. Elections will be held each year for three candidates.

The change eliminates the separate Board of School Estimate, which approves school budgets, and reviews and fixes costs for capital improvements before they go to the Township Council for bonding. The school board itself will usually pass its own budgets, but they’d be sent to voters if they exceed a 2% year-to-year cap on property levy growth. Bonding measures would go to voters — which advocates of an appointed board worry could mean tax-sensitive property owners could tank spending.

Elected or appointed board? The big decision for Montclair voters