Elmbrook considering risks of polling places to students' safety

The Elmbrook School District considering how to handle the use of polling places in schools going forward since many parents have voiced concerns about safety. 

“Now we have three of our schools Burleigh, Dixon and Swanson that we believe are an integral part of the democratic process in our community, but we’d like to see if there are other options,” said Elmbrook Superintendent Mark Hansen. 

Officers are stationed at the schools on election days. Police said there haven’t been any issues. The former Hillside Elementary is still used as well. 

“Schools are public buildings. Together the city government and the school district are serving the public,” said Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto. 

Ponto hopes to keep it that way. 

“There should be continuity in polling places because it’s hard to get the people to change from one place to another,” said Ponto.

There are also challenges in finding new voting locations. 

“You need have to have handicap accessible places, you need to have a large enough room that could accommodate that and those schools have gymnasiums where you have the voting. You need ample parking. Most schools have that,” said Ponto. 

The city suggested using the convention center as a voting site once it’s built and the idea of modifying the school calendar so students are off on election days. 

“We certainly will put forward a solution that will solve our general elections for next year by asking our board of education to change our in-service dates to match those general election dates,” said Hansen. 

The superintendent hopes the school board and the city can work together on a solution.

“School safety is our highest priority that’s why I’m passionate about it,” he said. 

Some other schools districts in Southeast Wisconsin have already taken up this issue. 

Oak Creek voted to move two polling locations from schools back in August. Wauwatosa voted to stop using schools as voting locations in 2016. 

In Greendale, a handful of schools are still used as polling spots but students have the day off school. 

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