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Board protests school use for voting

With Election Day on the way, members of the Sweet Home Central Board of Education are expressing dismay over using district elementary schools as community polling places.

Last year, the board, through Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks, sent a letter to the Erie County Board of Elections requesting that the county avoid using Glendale and Heritage Heights elementary schools for voting, citing discomfort over having the comings and goings of a polling place among a potentially vulnerable student population.

This year, the Board of Elections has selected Glendale Elementary as a polling place once again. Voting has been moved from Heritage Heights to Maplemere Elementary due to inadequate parking space at Heritage Heights. The Norman C. Vergils Center at Sweet Home High School, where the School Board holds its meetings, also will be used for voting.

School Board Vice President Marianne Jansen was displeased with the continued use of the district's schools. "I think it's an issue of our children's safety that can't be overlooked," he said. "It's a shame that the Board of Elections did not honor our requests. It feels like a slap in the face."

County officials toured the school district's buildings in response to the superintendent's letter to consider alternate sites. However, Hicks said, election officials are not beholden to the wishes of the school district.

"Ultimately, state law allows them to use their own discretion in where they place polling sites, and they do not necessarily have to heed our advice," he said.