Haverhill Schools to Close Primary Election Day Due to Expected Polling Location Confusion

Haverhill City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Students will have an extra-long weekend because of primary elections next September after the Haverhill School Committee agreed last week to close school Tuesday, Sept. 6.

City Clerk Linda L Koutoulas asked members to consider closing schools that day. She explained because this will be the first election with re-precincting in effect, there will be a great deal of confusion on election day among voters who do not know their new polling locations—most in school buildings. In addition, based on recent events, she said parents may be uneasy about adults entering the buildings when students are there.

“For a lot of parents, that’s untenable. I get phone calls every election that we have on a school day and parents are very concerned. They want to know what protections I’ve put in place. Unfortunately, my job is to run the election as properly and as smoothly as I can. We cannot screen people. We can’t frisk people. We can’t tell people they can’t come to vote for whatever reason,” she told the Committee.

Koutoulas said there are police stationed at polling sites, but they are generally busy with a myriad of other issues.

School Superintendent Margaret Marotta responded that the administration considered closing schools that day, but worried it would be disruptive to the students, just returning from summer vacation.

“The issue with it, for us, is that we start school on August the 30, which is a Wednesday. We have school on Thursday. We have a half day on Friday, the Saturday, Sunday obviously, the Monday for Labor Day. It makes for a rough start to the school year,” she explained.

Committee members considered a number of options, including eliminating one of the Christmas vacation days, but ultimately voted unanimously to add an extra day on the end of the school year making June 14 the last day of the next school next year.

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