With Election Day traffic backups still fresh in mind, the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Board of Education has banned campaigning on school grounds.
“There will be no campaigning on district grounds with the exception of ‘Meet the Candidates Night,’ ” board President Bob Dana said.
In the May election, many voters complained they were stuck in a backup caused by candidates making appeals to voters who were entering the parking lot from Sheridan Drive.
The voting was held at Hoover Middle School, the district’s lone polling place.
Election law already bans campaigning within 100 feet of a polling place entrance.
The board this week clarified its policy to effectively prohibit campaigning on school grounds altogether.
The new policy allows the district to promote “a public candidates night” on school district grounds but forbids other campaigning for candidates or propositions on district premises.
School districts have the authority to limit campaigning on school grounds due to traffic or safety concerns, said Jane A. Burzynski, executive director of the Erie County Association of School Boards.
“The candidates certainly have their First Amendment rights, but they’re also subject to reasonable regulation regarding time, place and manner,” she said.
Burzynski said she is unaware of any other district passing such a rule.
“Ken-Ton may well have that need,” she said.
New board member Todd J. Potter Jr. expressed concern that the new policy limits voters from hearing from candidates. He voted against the policy and said he would propose an alternative before the next election in 2014.
The measure passed with support from the other four board members.
Candidates will still be allowed to place up to two campaign signs on district grounds on Election Day beyond the 100-foot buffer, Dana said.
In other matters:
• The board retained Dana and Stephen G. Brooks as president and vice president, respectively, during its reorganization. Dana, a retired Williamsville school teacher, and Potter, a University at Buffalo Law School student, were sworn in Tuesday following their elections in May to the five-member board.
• Janet A. Gillmeister, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, announced she will retire at the end of the year.
• The board scheduled a public session for Aug. 6 to discuss the continuing school consolidation study.