Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Cicero) authored legislation to add Election Day to the list of days school is not in session (A.6040-B). Stirpe has been pushing the legislation in the Assembly and has highlighted a renewed urgency to pass it following this year’s contentious presidential campaign. Some schools are already closed to students on Election Day because of concerns about safety.
“Since so many schools are used as polling places, it only makes sense to make Election Day a day off for students,” said Stirpe. “Having school in session when anyone can come in off the street is a big risk.”
Stirpe’s bill allows school districts to schedule the day as a professional development day or for staff attendance only. Many schools already schedule a staff only day on an alternative day in November. Rescheduling the staff conference day is a zero-cost option for schools. It also allows for a school to appeal its designation as a polling place. Schools are ideal polling places because they’re centrally located, are ADA compliant and usually offer parking.
Dr. Jody Manning, District Superintendent for the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services (OCM BOCES), has strongly supported this proposal in the past and has encouraged districts to schedule a professional development day on Election Day whenever possible.
“Safety for all our students has always been – and will always be – a top priority,” Manning said. “We will do everything we can to advocate for this legislation and support our representatives in Albany because of the very real safety issue this addresses.”
Many schools require visitors to sign in and provide identification, a measure often suspended on Election Day. The New York State Election Commissioners Association also encourages schools to close for the day.