Elections require that all schools should be closed

March 28, 1997

YOUR MARCH 18 editorial, "Election Day for teacher planning" was devoid of research and cries out for some response.

When a few schools are used for polling sites it is necessary to close all schools because you cannot close part of a school system and leave the rest open for regular classes. The situation requires that all schools be closed.

Del. Joseph Getty should leave educational decisions to the state Board of Education. That board really knows what planning days are needed for teachers. Further, schools are not day care centers; they must have established educational goals and purpose.

The state should leave responsibility for the care of children to the parents and educational programs to the local school boards. Not only do teachers not support Mr. Getty, but state election officials unanimously feel the concept is ill conceived.

A check with the Frederick County election office revealed about one-half of the schools in that county are used as polling places. The use of election day for teacher planning sessions was tried in 1996 and, contrary to your editorial, did meet with serious problems. A few of the problems experienced were: parking -- teachers used most of the spaces needed for voters; telephone communication in the schools on election day was very difficult, and an important source for election judges was taken away from county election officials.

Many counties use approximately 90 percent of the available schools for voting places. Mr. Getty's bill falls short of positive benefits for education and voter convenience. This will only give registered voters another reason for not voting on election day.

Robert J. Antonetti Sr.

Upper Marlboro

The writer is president, Maryland Association of Election Officials.

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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