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Should Schools Close on Election Day?

Photo by neotint via Flickr.

Photo by neotint via Flickr.

The group looking into a uniform school calendar for Connecticut heard from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today about the need to close schools on Election Day. Merrill told the Uniform School Task Force Committee that, “because of increased security concerns for schools, many districts are closed on Election Day, and I would like to encourage that practice.”

According to Merrill, 105 schools and five regional schools close on Election Day, while 44 schools and 12 regional schools remain open.

Merrill said local municipalities are responsible for selecting polling locations based on specific criteria in Connecticut State Statutes, and schools tend to fit the criteria. She added that one-third of Connecticut towns are so small that they have only one voting precinct, and typically a school is the only place that fits the criteria for a polling site.

“Many schools are used on Election Day, and we would never want to prohibit towns from using schools as polling places,” she said.

Merrill continued, “More and more states and school districts are seeing the wisdom of closing school on election day. My recommendation is that towns close their schools on Election Day.”

The task force completed its work today and plans to have a draft recommendation to the committee members in two weeks and will then submit its final report to the legislature.

What do you think?

Should schools be closed on Election Day?  Should the task force recommend a uniform school calendar for all Connecticut schools?

  1. Jon-Paul Roden #

    The idea for a uniform calendar for Connecticut’s schools has been around for some time and I hope that the concept gets the support of CABE and CAPSS in addition to our Association and the AFT as it moves forward. It just seems like a good idea with more and more families being impacted by different district’s schedules.

    Certainly school security is on everyone’s mind. If schools are used as polling places, just bringing hundreds of strangers onto school property increases the possibility that someone with malicious intent could use the opportunity inappropriately.

    In my town where several schools are used as polling places, the district has for many years cancelled classes and used the day as one of the staff professional development days. They were also aware of the increased traffic and the possibility of accidents with all of the school busses and parents dropping off and picking up their students as many residents also impacted the traffic in and out of the schools and filled the parking lots.

    December 17, 2013
  2. Kim #

    I was interested to learn more of this idea of a uniform school calendar. I work in one district, and my children attend school in another. My husband has to take vacation days when my children are off and get out in June earlier. We aren’t able to take a family vacation in the summer because if this. The district where I work is small and does not use the schools for voting. Although only a few students would be able to vote in elections, I think its great they can participate in this civic responsibility. It also provides younger students with an opportunity to see civic duty acted upon if their parents take them along.

    December 16, 2013
  3. Karen #

    A uniform winter & spring vacation would be ideal. The town I teach in doesn’t ever use schools for voting. We are small enough that they have always used the town’s library.

    December 16, 2013
  4. Lloyd Stableford #

    Yes, I do believe that schools ought to be closed on Election Day. As a former American history teacher, there is an opportunity to educate students about the importance of citizen involvement in electing their public officials. Whether going to the polls with a voter, getting involved in a local, state, national campaign, and/or being challenged to keep abreast of the forthcoming election, students would be well served if schools were not open on Election Day.

    December 16, 2013

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