The Fayetteville-Manlius School District Board of Education is considering changing the hours of the district’s annual budget vote and board of education candidate election so that polls would be open when students are not in the school building while voting takes place.
At its Dec. 16 meeting, the board plans to discuss modifying the current school-year calendar so that elementary schools would hold a half-day of classes on the vote date, which in 2020 will be May 19. Polls would then open at noon, after students are gone for the day, and close at the traditional 9 p.m. Fayetteville Elementary School would continue to serve as the polling location.
While the F-M board is expected to begin discussing the proposal at its December meeting, the board will likely vote on it during its Jan. 13 meeting.
The state dictates the date (the third Tuesday in May) and location (a school building) for the annual school budget vote and board of education candidate election, but districts are allowed to set the polling hours within set parameters.
“After each vote, we evaluate our process. Those evaluations have led to enhanced security measures, such as increased police presence and modifications to how voters enter the polling area,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice said. “We have also been lobbying the state to change the law and allow us to hold our vote at a location other than a school building.”
With no change to the law as of yet that would allow school districts to hold votes in facilities other than school buildings, the district is considering holding a half-day of classes on the day of the vote so elementary students would still receive instruction on that day but not be in the building when the polls are open, he said. If approved, the change would not impact students at the middle or high school levels.
“We recognize this change could inconvenience some voters who traditionally vote on their way to work or after they drop their children off at school, but we hope that with the polls continuing to remain open until 9 p.m., those residents could vote on their way home from work or after they pick their children up from school,” Tice said. “Every vote is important, and we don’t want to discourage voters from coming out to the polls. We’re trying to find a balance between educating our students, protecting students and staff and making the polls as accessible as possible for our voters.”