To our elected officials,
On behalf of the Middle Country Central School District, we write to express our concerns regarding holding elections in school buildings. As parents, teachers, administrators, community members and taxpayers, the safety of our children is our priority and we believe you feel the same.
Relocating elections from school buildings and finding alternative sites, we believe, addresses the school safety concerns that are brought about by allowing open access to these buildings for primaries, general and special elections.
Historically, schools were selected as election sites because they generally offered easy access to public places that most people knew, but that is the exact reason why we now need to get voting out of schools. The times have changed and schools should no longer be easily accessible to the public. Far too many horrific acts of school violence have occurred, killing so many innocent children and educators. Limiting access to schools limits opportunities for such acts of violence but, on election days, access is open and almost unfettered.
Many of our children, teachers and staff feel uneasy and anxious on election days. Because of how our schools are constructed, we cannot close the voting area off from the rest of the building, which makes it difficult to keep voters from coming into contact with students. For example, restrooms for adults are not available where the voting booths are located, yet access to restrooms is required, which means election workers and voters who require the facilities are traveling throughout the hallways.
School districts have become increasingly aware of and are extremely sensitive to the issue of student safety. In Middle Country, for example, multiple practices to insure student health and safety have been implemented. With the support of local law enforcement, as well as state police and specialized guidance from experts in the field, we developed and have in place school safety plans that are evaluated and updated at least annually. Our district, like many others, has spent significant amounts of money on security cameras, on hardening our building perimeters and on the ensuring that "best practices" are in place.
In Middle Country, again like many other school districts, we have hired security staff to help keep our buildings safe. We have tightened access; no visitor is allowed in our schools without a thorough vetting of identification. And – by visitor, we mean parents, relatives and school neighbors as well as other individuals who may have business with school personnel. All of these practices go by the wayside on election day when school buildings have to unlock their doors and let hundreds of voters enter the buildings from 6am to 9pm. We are forced to ignore the safety measures we've worked so hard to put into place because New York State still allows voting to take place in schools.
Please help keep our children safe by removing primaries, general and special elections from schools.
Middle Country Legislative and Community Outreach Committee