Keeping our kids safe during the school day has been a big topic of conversation for many Eastern Iowa school districts following recent tragedies. But what about on Election Day when many schools serve as polling places? In Linn County there will now be armed guards at schools on election day. It's a move to increase the safety of kids and some parents say they support it.
Jamie Achey has two kids in elementary school and often worries about their safety at school.
"With all the recent stories that have been going on I do worry about the safety of the kids," said Achey, who lives in Cedar Rapids.
Those recent stories include tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. That shooting inspired Linn County Auditor Joel Miller to add armed guards to schools on Election Day starting with September's school board elections.
"I don't want to take responsibility for something happen, happening on Election Day so this is a preventative measure," said Miller.
During a big election, there's around a dozen schools that serve as polling places.They can't all be changed.
"In some neighborhoods we just don't have any viable alternatives," said Miller. "I mean our polling places have to meet certain criteria for accessibility."
There will be one officer per school. In September, that'll be six high schools and one administration building that's attached to a school.The plan doesn't come cheap. It will cost $43 per hour per officer.
"It's not a cheap thing," said Miller. "Then you compare it against the cost of something happening, bad, what's the price you're going to put on that?"
Some parents agree and are glad to hear kids will be safe on Election Day.
"I heave no problems with armed guards," said Achey. "I think it would help detour some of the stories that we're hearing about."
During this upcoming school board election, there will be vote centers which will help cut down on costs. In November during the full city-wide elections, all county polling places will be open. Miller says he's open to feedback on how to keep locations safe that day.
The auditor in Johnson County says he's also open to polling location suggestions. Johnson County uses more than 20 schools on election days. That's more than any other county in the state.
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