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For Release: April 21, 2004


Voters Approve Majority of School Budgets in Annual School Elections; Approval and Voter Participation Rates are Up

New Jersey voters yesterday approved 69.8 percent of local school budgets. The results compare with 62.4 percent of school budgets approved in 2003. Voter participation, at 15.8 percent, was up from last year, when 15.2 percent of the registered voters cast ballots.

The results reported today reflect preliminary figures. Final tallies will be available in May.

Commissioner of Education William L. Librera said he was encouraged by the passage rate - up slightly from last year - but he expressed disappointment about the participation rate in the school elections.

"It's somewhat baffling that such an important election continues to attract such a low level of participation," Commissioner Librera said. "School budgets have a dramatic impact on the programs and services offered to children, and they require significant expenditures of state and local tax dollars. Such important matters demand greater attention by the voting public."

In addition to the base budgets, voters approved 45 of 82 second ballot questions. The questions asked voters to approve appropriations for specific items whose costs exceed the current spending growth limitations, or caps, of the school district.