Ferry Voting

Dear Martins Ferry Residents,

As superintendent of the Martins Ferry School District, I would like to inform our community stakeholders why the decision was made to no longer house voting in the district on election days.

There are two reasons: first and most importantly: is safety and security of our students and second: traffic issues. We understand this has placed a burden to the public.

We take student security very seriously in the Martins Ferry School District. With active shooter incidents like Columbine, Sandy Hook and most recently Sparks, Nevada, we do our best to educate our students in a safe and secure setting. Immediately following student arrival, our buildings are locked and secured. Access to the buildings can only be obtained through school officials.

Additionally, all visitors must check in at the building office and obtain a pass so that visitors can be identified by all staff members. By housing a polling station, we would have to open our outside doors and the district officials would have a very difficult time maintaining security. Even with police at the ready, preventing interaction between our students and voters would be challenging. In this day and age, it is our responsibility to be proactive when dealing with the student safety.

Our second issue is parking and traffic flow. During the morning drop-off and the afternoon pick-up, we have an abundance of buses and personal vehicles traveling in and out in an orderly fashion under the watchful eyes of administrators, transportation officials, staff members, and law enforcement.

Even with all the planning, we have to be very careful with the students traveling from vehicles and buses so that every student is safe while entering and exiting the buildings. If the entire city of Martins Ferry were to vote on our campus, the extra traffic flow and parking would become an issue.

We understand why some voters are upset with the school district, but please realize we are brainstorming possible solutions/compromises for next year.

Please understand that the goal is to develop a solution to open the schools for general elections, but special elections could still be problematic. We intend to apply for and obtain a student waiver day so that our staff would be engaged in professional development but our students would not be in session on the general election day. This may be difficult to confirm since the Ohio Department of Education must approve of all waiver days and do not do so until the summer at the earliest. We will also look at the possibility of rearranging our school calendar so that students would not be in session on election day. By using one of these two options, hopefully we could house a polling station without our students being present in the future.

I thank you, the community stakeholders, for your support for the Martins Ferry City School District, but please understand our number one concern is the safety of our students.

Yours in Education,

Dirk Fitch