D300 super, others ask Carpentersville to keep crossing guards

Carpentersville parent Kathy Miljevich will drive her 10-year-old daughter Katie to school if Carpentersville cuts crossing guards from its upcoming budget.

She says it’s just too dangerous for her daughter to walk to Sunny Hill Elementary School without a crossing guard on busy Helm Road and considers herself lucky she’s around to drive her daughter to school.

“My concern is for every child that walks,” Miljevich said.

Tuesday, five people, including Community Unit District 300 Superintendent Ken Arndt, asked the board to reconsider its proposal to eliminate roughly $50,000 from next year’s police budget for five crossing guards.

In an effort to balance the budget, Carpentersville Village Manager J. Mark Rooney has suggested the village leave it up to the school districts to pay for the crossing guards. Carpentersville has paid the entire bill for at least 25 years, but Rooney says the school districts should cover the entire cost. The money saved could be better spent on purchasing squad cars or hiring a police officer, he said.

But Tuesday, representatives from Community Unit District 300 and Barrington District 220 said they cannot afford to pick up the tab if Carpentersville follows through on its proposal — none of the other towns the districts serves has discussed ending their financial support for crossing guards, authorities said.

“I understand your dilemma, but to ask the school district to pick up additional expenses in these difficult times would be very problematic for our school board,” Arndt said, noting that the district laid off 26 teachers a day earlier as part of a plan to trim $8.5 million from its own budget.

Crossing guards do more than just help kids cross the street, said Golfview Elementary School Principal Patricia Whitecotton. They also watch out for people who don’t belong at the schools and in some cases, stick their necks out to protect the children.

“I will jump in front of a car for them and I’ve done it,” said Barbara Sances, a crossing guard at Sunny Hill school for seven years. She said she’s already been hit twice but only sustained minor injuries. She presented a petition of about 100 names to the board in support of the crossing guards.

They appeared to find an ally with Trustee Paul Humpfer, who spent part of Thursday at Sunny Hill to watch Sances in action. With the proliferation of distracted drivers, Humpfer argues crossing guards are needed now, more than ever. If neither school district pays for the crossing guards, police have suggested beefing up their presence around the schools during drop off and pick up times. The districts have also said they’d seek volunteers to help the children cross the street.

The board is expected to approve the final budget in April.

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