U46 coughs up money for 1 crossing guard at Spring Trail
Elgin Area School District U-46 has agreed to pay for one crossing guard near a Carol Stream elementary school after officials previously said they wouldn't.
The district announced this summer that it would stop reimbursing the village for two crossing guards near Spring Trail Elementary School in the village's northwest corner.
The village then terminated its contract with Andy Frain Services for the two guards because it couldn't afford the cost, officials said.
But one guard -- stationed at the intersection of Georgetown and Spring Valley drives -- has been in place since the first day of school, with U-46 picking up the cost. There is no longer a guard at Woodlake Drive and Boa Trail.
The remaining guard, however, will only be funded by U-46 through the end of the school year, said John Heiderscheidt, the district's coordinator of school safety and security.
Of the 11 municipalities that fall within U-46 boundaries, Carol Stream is the only one that asks for reimbursement for crossing guards. U-46 officials maintain the district shouldn't have been paying for the guards in Carol Stream all along.
"That's not something we've ever done as a procedure or standard," Heiderscheidt said. "My firm belief is that crossing guards are a local decision, as the communities control the speed limits ... (and) they control the enforcement of traffic signs on their roadways. Placement of crossing guards should be a local decision."
That's opposite the sentiment at a village board meeting last month in which officials said the village wouldn't be picking up the cost of the guards, either.
They argued that other elementary school districts in town would likely ask the village to fund their crossing guards if the village agreed to pay for the guards at Spring Trail.
After reading an Aug. 3 Daily Herald story on the issue, Paul Cotton, general manager of Joe Cotton Ford, said he committed $1,000 per semester to the Spring Trail parent teacher organization to potentially fund the cost of crossing guards.
"My understanding was nobody was going to help them, so I wanted to put the first seeds in," Cotton said.
Kelly Jatczak, the outgoing co-president of the PTO, said parents were exploring if and how they might be able to use the donation.
"It's a position I thought I would never be in -- to hire crossing guards and make sure kids get to school (safely)," Jatczak said. "I always thought that would be a given."
Heiderscheidt said donations could be made to the U-46 Educational Foundation to pay for crossing guards, among other initiatives.
He said the district would be talking to the village and police department later this month to develop solutions beyond the end of the school year. Some options include enforcing slower speed limits, better signage, or establishing a "walking school bus" program, with parent volunteers stationed along a given walking route.