SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 16, 2008

Peabody panel elects to nix class on voting day

By Stacie N. Galang

PEABODY — Students won't have to attend school on Election Day the School Committee decided last night.

The board voted unanimously to change the fall schedule by eliminating classes for the Nov. 4 presidential election and shortening the day for the Sept. 16 state primary.

Committee members took their cue from Superintendent C. Milton Burnett who expressed concern about school safety on days voters enter elementary school buildings.

"I'm OK with that. I agree with that," he said.

Burnett also said the day off from school would help with the expected record numbers of voters in this year's presidential election.

The committee's decision was a slight variation to an initiative introduced by committee member Brandi Carpenter. She pushed to remove polling stations from the elementary schools altogether.

Carpenter expressed concern shortly after the Feb. 5 presidential primary, when an accident in a the parking lot of a Randolph elementary school that was a polling place sent a second-grader to the hospital. She also worried that an influx of strangers in the school buildings would put students at risk.