Montclair voters have approved a move to an elected school board — putting aside the municipality’s long-held practice of mayoral appointments and taking on the process seen in 97% of New Jersey school districts.
The referendum question before voters Tuesday (and in the weeks leading up to it, through early voting and mail-in balloting) was the latest version of a proposal Montclairians rejected five times since the 1960s. When Montclair last put a referendum question on a change to an elected board before voters in 2009, the question was defeated 57% to 43%. The vote this election bucked that trend — and wasn’t close. Even with some votes yet to be counted, the victory for the pro-elected side of what’s been a fierce community debate for months was so lopsided as to be insurmountable. In unofficial results reported by the Essex County Clerk’s office around 11:30 p.m. on Election Night, 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.