Wake Ed

Wake County schools will open on a two-hour delay Election Day

From left, Daniels Middle School precinct officials Mac Fountain and Martha Cole converse briefly with neighbor and voter Charles Ashby, standing, as he walked to the ballot counting machine during primary day voting Tuesday morning, June 7, 2016 in Raleigh, NC. Turnout is expected to be much higher on Nov. 8, 2016 so all Wake County schools will open on a two-hour delay on Election Day.
From left, Daniels Middle School precinct officials Mac Fountain and Martha Cole converse briefly with neighbor and voter Charles Ashby, standing, as he walked to the ballot counting machine during primary day voting Tuesday morning, June 7, 2016 in Raleigh, NC. Turnout is expected to be much higher on Nov. 8, 2016 so all Wake County schools will open on a two-hour delay on Election Day. hlynch@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school board voted Tuesday to open all of the district’s schools on a two-hour delay on Election Day because of the traffic around polling places in the morning.

Voter turnout is expected to be high on Nov. 8 when between 50 and 60 Wake schools will serve as polling places. Wake has historically delayed the opening of school on Election Day during national elections.

“This provides additional time for our community to access the sites and for us to still maintain an instructional day a little bit later when the larger crowds have dispersed,” Cathy Moore, deputy superintendent for academic advancement, told the school board on Tuesday.

This year’s Election Day ballot will include a long list of items, such as president, Congress, governor, General Assembly, judicial races, county races and a referendum to raise the sales tax rate a half-cent to help pay for the Wake transit plan.

Moore said Wake can’t close schools on Election Day because of scheduling problems caused by the state’s school calendar law, which sets the opening and closing dates for traditional-calendar schools. Moore said the calendar law only provides 184 weekdays for the district to use to schedule 180 days of classes for the 2016-17 school year.

Moore said Wake was severely hampered in its ability to schedule workdays and breaks within the 2016-17 school year.

“We could not give up an entire day in the middle of the school year for this,” Moore said.

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