Carpentersville refuses to pay for crossing guards

With Carpentersville's refusal to pay for crossing guards — something the village has covered for 25 years — the village was effectively involving children in a “game of chicken” between Carpentersville and a pair of school districts, Village President Ed Ritter said Tuesday.

But the village board, discussing the budget Tuesday night, voted 4-2 against a motion to restore crossing guard funding.

Four Carpentersville trustees — Kay Teeter, Brad McFeggan, Pat Schultz and outgoing Trustee Judy Sigwalt — rejected the last-ditch effort to save five crossing guard jobs that had been cut in committee earlier. Trustees Paul Humpfer and Keith Hinz floated the motion.

Carpentersville is in the midst of a budget crunch and laid off about a half dozen people to balance the budget. The crossing guard cuts will save $40,000 from next year's budget and $56,000 in subsequent years.

Teeter, McFeggan, Schultz and Sigwalt say Community Unit District 300 and Barrington Unit District 220, which have had their own recent budget woes that included scores of layoffs, should pay for the crossing guards. Four guards fall within District 300 and one works within District 220. The districts have already said they can't afford to take over.

“Nobody is saying do away with the crossing guards,” Sigwalt said. “(We're) asking the school districts to step up.”

Schultz doesn't understand why District 300 can't pick up the tab and suggested it “look inward” and review the high salaries it doles out.

At the meeting, six people showed up to ask the village for a change of heart.

Carpentersville resident Cynthia Banaszak stood at the dais, crying with her 6-year-old son Collin. She referenced an article about an attempted kidnapping last November near Perry Elementary School, where both of her sons attend. She said crossing guards are one of the last lines of defense against this behavior.

“Would you take responsibility for my 6-year-old or 10-year-old being abducted from school?” Banaszak asked trustees. “Probably not. Please, as a mom, I beg you (to pay for the crossing guards).”

Barb Sances, one of the crossing guards who will be out of a job in June, raised her stop sign to show three dents — one from an angry motorist who hit her and two from motorists using cellular phones as they drove.

“If I'm not there, (the kids) are going to be this sign and it won't be pretty,” she cautioned.

Hinz fears tragedy will be ahead without the guards.

“They are more than a crossing guard,” Hinz said. “They're a vehicle control guard, too.”

Police have said they will try to increase their presence at the affected schools.

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