Elementary School — and the local high school — will no longer be hosting governmental elections after a vote last week by the local Board of Education, which cited concerns over student safety in banning the practice from their premises. The decision dismayed local town board members, who said they thought the decision wasn’t rational, considering that the district will be continuing to hold their own public elections in the schools.
Elections for government offices will no longer be held in the Warrensburg Central schools, according to a unanimous decision reached last week by the schools’ Board of Education.
The decision was made after concerns were aired about the safety of students at the elementary school and access issues at the high school, Superintendent of Schools Tim Lawson said Tuesday.
The decision prompted dismay among town board members as well as uncertainty over where elections will be held, beginning with the April 24 U.S. Presidential Primary vote.
In recent years, elections for municipal, state and federal elections have been held at either the local high school or the elementary school, after voting was moved from Warrensburg Town Hall due to extreme congestion. For years prior,, citizens residing in all four of Warrensburg voting districts cast ballots on four separate machines in the modest-size town hall board room.
Last year, a county Board of Elections Commissioner toured the high school campus with a representative of the Southern Adirondack Living Center, who raised concerns about accessibility for people with mobility constraints. Concerns were raised with the school about curb cuts and positioning of handicapped parking spaces.
In response, the school board then approved a one-time use of the elementary school’s General Purpose Room.
Lawson said that the use of that room, although large and away from most of the student activity, prompted questions about congestion and student security.
He said that some citizens were concerned that parents with custody disagreements might have inappropriate opportunity to take children away from custodial parents, or sex offenders might also might be in close proximity to students.
Warren County Board of Elections recently sent a letter to the school district requesting use of the General Purpose Room for the April Primary election, an idea which Lawson endorsed, he said.
But the school board defeated the request Jan. 23 in one unanimous vote, then followed it up with a second unanimous vote not to allow municipal votes in school district facilities.
Dismayed about the situation, Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said the school board’s decision was a step backwards in their relationship with the town. He added that their action didn’t make sense, as the municipal elections wouldn’t pose any more risk to students than school district votes, which will continue to be held at the school.
“At a time we are seeking to share services and facilities to save taxpayers’ money, this decision is unfortunate,” he said.
As of Tuesday, town officials said Geraghty was planning to meet with the school board and lobby for them to reverse their decision.