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Committee debates election day impact

A long discussion held during the Washington County Board of Education meeting last week targeted the question of whether schools should be in session during election day on Aug. 7, 2014.
David Hammond, who is a member of the Calendar Committee, said the committee provides two different school calendar options to the teachers to vote on, in order to determine which they prefer.
Before those calendars were presented to the teachers, Hammond shared concerns about having school on election day.
Seven of the schools in the district are currently used as voting sites for election day.
Hammond said schools are more vulnerable when people are going in and out of the schools on election day while the students are there.
“It comes down to safety, I don’t want our schools more vulnerable,” he said, adding that it is “just something to think about.”
Hammond recommended that Director of Schools Ron Dykes contact the Election Commission to ask if there are alternative locations they could use, rather than the schools.
“There are good options as far as churches and community centers near each school,” Hammond said.
Dykes said he would rather not have school on election day. He said they are not only talking about school in 2014, but a different world and culture than in 2004.
In addition to potential safety issues, Dykes said they are also increasing the workload and the stress factor of law enforcement who are dealing with traffic congestion.
“If they can’t change the venue, the best alternative is to be out of school on that day,” he said.
Other options discussed were moving back the in-service days for teachers, as well as starting school on Aug. 4 for an abbreviated day, followed by a full day on Aug. 5., Aug. 6 and Aug. 8, with schools closed on Aug. 7.
Board member Jack Leonard said the committee needs to go back and fix the calendar so it represents what was discussed during the meeting prior to sending it to the teachers for a vote.
Chad Williams agreed that the board members want to see the calendar in black and white before it reaches the teachers.