Class dismissed on Election Day for many Onondaga County schools
There’s a good chance you’ll be voting at a school on Tuesday. Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says they’re just good places to hold elections.
"Schools are located in neighborhoods, they have parking ... they are handicapped accessible and they’re usually the only buildings with rooms big enough to house it," Czarny said.
However voting creates disruptions. There’s more traffic, certain rooms can be off limits, and for the voter it’s more difficult to find parking and weave through school buses. That’s why Czarny is happy most schools in the Onondaga County have decided to keep students home on Tuesday. For the past few years, Czarny along with BOCES has been encouraging schools in Onondaga County to schedule professional development days, or parent teacher conference days on Election Day, thus keeping kids home.
"This is the first year we’ve had such compliance where the Syracuse City School District and OCM BOCES both scheduled full days off on Election Day," Czarny said. "And although there’s a couple of schools who have opted out of that calendar, most of the schools in Onondaga County are closed on Election Day.”
The Jamesville-Dewitt school district is one exception, and the West Genesee District is holding a half day of classes. Czarny, who has been pushing for this for a few years, says there heightened safety concerns for students this year due to the hotly contested presidential race.
"We have never heard or seen of any issues at polling places in Onondaga County, but with the fervor that’s out there, a lot of parents were concerned and not having got kids there alleviates that concern," Czarny said.
Even though some students will be out of class, Czarny said Election Day can still offer a learning opportunity for children.
“They’re allowing kids to become inspectors," he said. "They can be inspectors because the kids are off that day. They also tell people to go out and work civically on a campaign and volunteer. This is something a lot of the social studies teachers are working in their curriculum.”