School board doesn't give the city the answer it was looking for: Can schools hold PD days when elections are taking place?

News 100 redBy Walter Byj

May 27, 2015


For reasons that few journalists understand bureaucrats frequently put difficult or contentious items at the end of their agendas. Haltion Public School Director of Education Euale discussed with the board a resolution that was passed by the City of Burlington directing the Mayor to begin corresponding with Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to look into options for amendments to the Municipal Elections Act that allow the use of schools for election purposes while ensuring compliance with the Safe Schools Act.

The City of Burlington offered two options;

Moving Election Day to the last Saturday in October
Mandate all school boards to hold a professional development day on Election Day.

Every politician within a stone’s throw was brought into the picture.  And the trustees had comments as well.

Halton District School Board logoVice-Chair Amy Collard(Burlington) initiated the discussion by stating that PD days timing are a huge undertaking and suggested that if this was also applied to provincial and federal elections there could be chaos.
She was not a fan of Saturday voting as it would have a lower turnout and expressed safety concerns with the public walking thru schools in order to vote. She would not endorse the letter.

Andrea Grebenc (Burlington) followed by stating that Saturday might be a good day as Burlington has many who work outside the city and this would allow them time to vote.

Trustee Harvey-Hope (Oakville) followed by stating that the next municipal election would be Monday October 22nd and with the current lead time a PD day could be scheduled around that time. She did state that this would not solve a provincial/federal Election Day issue. Trustee Oliver (Oakville) followed by concurring with Harvey Hope and she expressed concerns on having provincial/federal elections on a Saturday.

Trustee Gray (Halton Hills) asked if there have been any major problems with voting taking place in schools; she also felt showcasing the voting process in the schools would a positive sign for our students.

Small click here - blackBoth Director Eaule and Assistant Director Miller stated that there were some concerns, but nothing major. Vice- Chair once again reiterated her concern for the safety of our students with strangers in our schools during this process.

This brought on further discussion of using other facilities such as church halls before using school property. Once again the issue of federal/provincial elections surfaced. And on it went. Chair Amos (Oakville) suggested the board put some thought behind this resolution and discuss at the next meeting. Not good enough for Vice-Chair Collard as it does not address the issue.


Burlington Board of Education trustee Amy Collard isn’t keen on the idea of PD days being held so that schools can be used for election purposes.

So the board passed a motion (unanimously) directing the chair to meet with all the recipients of this letter to meet and discuss the options and concerns regarding polling stations at schools.

A letter from the city offering the Ministry some solution to avoid voting at schools during the school hours during municipal elections quickly escalated to federal/provincial elections, school safety and budgeting for security. And meetings with dozens of people.

What was odd is that the people who will be in the schools voting or often the parents on the children in the schools – has the matter of safety been blown out of proportion?

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3 comments to School board doesn’t give the city the answer it was looking for: Can schools hold PD days when elections are taking place?

  • Brian

    Ridiculous just make Election Day a Monday!! PD days are always Friday’s + everyone needs an excuse to leave early on a Monday!!!

  • Anna

    This is such a ridiculous non-issue IMO. Every school I’ve ever voted in has been set up to limit voter access to the rest of the school (i.e. direct voters into the school via a gym door entrance, they vote in the gym, then leave the same way and never even set foot in the rest of the school). If there are schools that can’t be set up that way, then find alternatives to those schools. But making a huge deal of this is just a waste of time.

  • Yvonne

    My understanding was schools allowed municipalities use of their schools in lieu of running school trustee election as well as Mayor and Councillor electoral voting. Simple solution is too take trustee element off ballot and see how quickly schools change their minds Another practical solution is to hire hall monitors to eliminate wandering voters