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Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting begins Oct. 24 and runs until Nov. 4.

Election Day is a holiday for Austin ISD students

Parents drop off children at  Zilker Elementary School on the first day of school on Aug. 15.
Renee Dominguez
Parents drop off children at Zilker Elementary School on the first day of school on Aug. 15.

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Class will not be in session at Austin ISD on Election Day. For the first time ever, it’s a student holiday.

The district’s board of trustees decided back in September to give students the day off. They also made Tuesday a professional development day for staff. Election Day will be a student holiday and professional development day next year, too.

Austin ISD officials said the holiday is beneficial for several reasons. First, it helps address school safety concerns because the 21 campuses serving as polling sites will be open to the public. Second, it gives eligible staff and students more chances to cast a ballot in the November election.

“Also, because we built enough instructional minutes into the calendar, the day will not need to be made up,” said Jason Stanford, AISD’s chief officer of communications and community engagement.

While Austin ISD’s goal is to make voting more accessible, Chris Marshall said he's concerned for parents who can’t take the day off work and need to find child care. He has two kids in Austin ISD schools.

“I think that it could be especially difficult and challenging for Austin residents with children to participate in voting,” he said.

Even though parents can bring children with them to the polls, Marshall said that might not be feasible for all families. His kids are 6 and 8 years old. He said standing in a long line with two young kids could be hard.

“I can’t imagine your ability to vote being hinged on the fact that you have children with you,” he said.

Another Austin ISD parent, Cuitláhuac Guerra-Mojarro, praised the district for making Election Day a holiday.

“I’m really glad Austin ISD staff has this day. I know they’re not going to waste it,” he said.

Guerra-Mojarro said the professional development day is especially helpful for school employees who normally travel from campus to campus throughout the workday.

“They’re going to take advantage and make sure their voices are heard,” he said.

Guerra-Mojarro said he thinks other districts and businesses should follow Austin ISD’s lead and make Election Day a holiday.

“Why don’t more people have that opportunity to have the day off?” he asked.

Guerra-Mojarro was a member of the bond steering committee that developed Austin ISD’s $2.4 billion bond package that is on the November ballot. Five seats on the AISD board of trustees are also up for grabs. Friday is the last day of early voting.

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Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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