District 21, Buffalo Grove to split crossing guard costs for now
Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 and the village of Buffalo Grove will split the cost of crossing guards at three District 21 corners for the next two months, according to an agreement reached Friday.
The agreement comes just in time to ensure crossing guards will be present for the first day of school Monday, but it's unknown what will happen after the two months is up.
"We have an interim solution now, and it gives us the opportunity to discuss a more permanent solution," District 21 spokeswoman Kara Beach said.
Beach says the deal came out of discussions Friday between District 21 Superintendent Kate Hyland and Buffalo Grove Village Manager Dane Bragg.
District 21 and Buffalo Grove will each pay 50 percent of the direct costs to employ crossing guards at the three District 21 intersections.
Friday's agreement does not require District 21 to repay the $24,000 Buffalo Grove says it owes the village for the past two years of providing crossing guards.
The three intersections are Arlington Heights Road and Bernard Drive near Longfellow Elementary School and Cooper Middle School, Raupp Boulevard and Golfview Terrace near Kilmer Elementary School, and Anthony Road and Cambridge Drive near Tarkington Elementary School.
The village has paid for the highly trained crossing guards for years, but parents received robocalls and emails from District 21 Wednesday notifying them that starting Monday, Buffalo Grove would no longer provide crossing guards.
District 21 school board members said they never agreed to pay for the crossing guards.
"I am appalled that this village would do this," District 21 Vice President Pamela Becker Dean said at Thursday's board meeting of Buffalo Grove's initial decision to stop supplying guards because of the unpaid bills.
But Bragg said the district had plenty of time to pay as the village notified District 21 in 2013 that they would be billed for the crossing guards.
"There was no intent to create an emergency situation," Bragg said.
Staci Rusch, co-president of the PTO at Longfellow, said at the board meeting that without crossing guards at the Arlington Heights Road and Bernard Drive intersection, "you'd be dodging a bullet every day."
Before the boards reached an agreement Friday, parent Ellyn Burnett argued $24,000 is a small price to pay for the safety of students, especially in an affluent area.
"If this was maybe a different township, this might make sense, but not for the taxes we pay here," Burnett said Friday. "My concern as a parent is it's a money dispute, and it should be a safety dispute."
Burnett, who has a son in first grade at Longfellow, says she moved to the area specifically for the schools. And she says most of the students crossing Arlington Heights Road live in the subdivision of Terramere.
"It's surprising that Arlington Heights hasn't been contacted for assistance because most of the students live in Arlington Heights," Burnett said.
Buffalo Grove officials said two other districts that are being charged, Kildeer-Countryside Elementary District 96 and Aptakisic-Tripp Elementary District 102, are paying. Village officials said they began charging the districts for half the operating costs, while covering all of the overhead costs such as administration, training and uniforms, to help balance a tight budget.
But District 21 board President Bill Harrison says it should be the village's responsibility to provide the crossing guards, despite its budget issues.
"The village has found another way to keep its taxes down," he said.
• Daily Herald correspondent Tracy Gruen contributed to this story.