By DON STINE
Using the Summerfield School in Neptune as a primary polling place is a concern to some parents who, citing safety and security issues, want the school board to end the practice. The primary election was held in the school on June 5.
“Our primary concern is that the school is open to the public while kids are there. The school was wide open and anyone could walk in. The mothers have been asking the board for better security but they have not done anything. These are legitimate concerns,” said Michelle Siciliano, who has a five-year-old at the school.
“We are looking to get polling out of the school altogether due to safety reasons. Anyone could walk in- they are not checking IDs, there are no metal detectors,” she said.
Other parents, expressing the same concerns, have started a petition, which so far is signed by 30 residents.
School Superintendent Tami Crader said that the Board of Education is fully aware of the matter and is trying to remedy it. She said she expects some action to be taken by mid-August.
Crader said both the Summerfield and Green Grove schools are open for primary voting. During the general elections in November, all schools are closed for polling and the day is used for a required professional development day.
“So, there are no students in the schools and it is the perfect opportunity for a professional development day,” she said.
The schools have historically been open as polling locations for many reasons, including being ADA compliant, having large spaces, and easy parking.
But Crader said that the parent’s concerns “are legitimate.”
“We are exploring other ways to handle this. We understand the concerns of the parents and we are looking at our options. We have to tighten up, keep students safe, and be a good community member,” she said.
She said other school districts are facing the same challenge and are either providing other polling places or closing off sections of the schools.