DALLAS — The Dallas Independent School District board is considering making Election Day -- Nov. 8, 2022 -- a student holiday and a virtual workday for teachers.
According to a district agenda item, the change is under consideration "due to safety concerns of campuses being used as polling sites and individuals having open access to more than half of district campuses."
At a board meeting on Thursday, the superintendent and trustees discussed the proposal to change to the 2022-23 school calendar.
"The only way we would be able to not have students at a school on Election Day this year, which we all know is going to be an extremely... well, rumor is that there'll be a lot of people showing up to vote, we could have that as a virtual professional development day," Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde said at the meeting.
Elizalde added that the change could keep students at home for safety reasons and would allow teachers and staff to take the opportunity to vote.
Dallas ISD trustee Dustin Marshall told the board he supports the idea of the student holiday but also raised some further concerns about early voting procedures.
"Although this does address my biggest concern of actual election day, it does not address early voting, which is also a concern from an access-to-the-building perspective," Marshall said.
Marshall brought up the idea of possibly removing schools from the list of early voting sites due to safety concerns, while at the same time not disenfranchising residents.
"We have to be very careful with disenfranchising voters for our own political reasons," trustee Joyce Foreman said.
Foreman also asked why discussions have surrounded the Nov. 8 election and not also on other elections such as the one in May.
Elizalde responded by saying the considerations for Nov. 8 have to do with the turnout that's expected.
"We want to be mindful of the immediate safety. We do know we need to talk about the long-term," Elizalde said.
"The only reason we started with November was I was a little more concerned because the turnout being so large," the superintendent added. "My concern is are we going to be able to manage in making sure, especially at some of the schools that don't have secure vestibules where the voting is taking place... how do we ensure we don't have adults roaming some of our buildings."
The change to the 2022-23 school calendar could be voted on by the board as early as Aug. 25.
Dallas ISD's first day of school is Monday, Aug. 15.