Bethel Park School District considering banning schools as polling places

Published Apr 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm (Updated Apr 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm)

Bethel Park School District Superintendent Nancy Rose said the district is considering proposing a resolution against the use of its schools as polling places.

In the past, the district school buildings have been used as polling places for both primary and general election voting, but security issues are making district officials rethink the issue, said Vicki Flotta, director of communications.

The district usually schedules teacher in-service days for election days, which means the students are not in the buildings during the voting. However, just having people in the buildings creates a security issue. “We really don’t want to have strangers in our buildings,” Flotta said.

School board member Cynthia Buckley also mentioned security issues.

“It’s sad, but that’s how things are these days,” Buckley said.

Flotta added that November and May are not ideal times for in-service days, but the district schedules them so that the students are not in the buildings. Voting generally takes place in the cafeteria or multi-purpose rooms which makes having classes difficult, she said.

Mark Wolosik, division manager for the Allegheny County Bureau of Elections, said he had heard that Bethel Park was talking about the issue.

“We will work with any school district any way we can,” Wolosik said.

The election official added that the bureau has always used school buildings and other public buildings throughout the county for several reasons, including the fact that they are open and accessible to the public.

“The election code says ‘Any board shall make arrangements for the use of school property or county or municipal property for polling places,’” Wolosik said.

Sarah McCluan, supervisor of communication services for the Allegheny County Intermediate Unit said she had not heard of any other school districts that were considering banning the use of its buildings for voting.

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