Carpentersville may not pay for crossing guards

Carpentersville is considering cutting off funding to school crossing guards, leaving it up to a pair of school districts to pick up the tab. It's a proposal an official acknowledged could cause a “political firestorm.”

Tuesday night, the village's audit and finance committee gave Village Manager Mark Rooney the green light to begin formal discussions with a pair of local school districts on Carpentersville's likely intention to stop financing the guards.

The $39,855 that funds the five crossing guards — $7,971 each — comes out of the police department's budget. That money doesn't include unemployment or liability insurance. Four of the crossing guards are at schools within Community District 300 and one is at a Barrington School District 220. Carpentersville has funded the guards for at least 25 years.

“That's a cost that belongs on the school district and not the village,” Rooney said.

Last fiscal year, the police department lost 10 positions and made other reductions, going from a $9.7 million budget to an $8.8 million budget, Police Chief Dave Neumann said.

Rooney said the money saved from cutting the crossing guards, coupled with a $40,000 surplus in the police department's budget, could be better spent on more pressing needs like hiring another police officer or purchasing squad cars.

Other commission members and three trustees agreed Carpentersville shouldn't be on the hook for shouldering the crossing guards' costs.

Trustee Judy Sigwalt said crossing guards are one of the “nice fluff things” from a bygone era.

“In this day and age with the economy and where we are ... I personally, I would rather have our money go into the (police) department,” Sigwalt said.

Rooney said he has broached the topic with District 300 officials and wasn't met with a positive response.

The fear, he said, is that other towns the district serves — Algonquin, East Dundee, West Dundee, Hampshire, Gilberts, Sleepy Hollow and Pingree Grove — may decide to pull their money out of crossing guards as well. The district is facing its own steep cuts.

District 300 Spokeswoman Allison Strupeck could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night. Rooney said he has not yet talked to Barrington 220 authorities.

In the event neither school district pays for the crossing guards, police could increase their presence around local schools during drop off and pick up times, Neumann said.

Commission Member Brad McFeggan also suggested adding signs that show drivers how fast they're going.

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