Buffalo Grove students return, but crossing guards don't

 
 
Posted1/5/2016 1:00 AM
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  • A sign along Arlington Heights Road reminds drivers traveling north that there is no crossing guard at the Bernard Drive intersection, where students cross to get to Longfellow Elementary and Cooper Middle schools in Buffalo Grove.

      A sign along Arlington Heights Road reminds drivers traveling north that there is no crossing guard at the Bernard Drive intersection, where students cross to get to Longfellow Elementary and Cooper Middle schools in Buffalo Grove. Erin Hegarty | Staff Photographer

Monday marked the first day students at four Wheeling Township School District 21 schools in Buffalo Grove didn't have the help of a crossing guard while making their way through busy intersections on their way to and from classes.

The lack of guards is the result of an acrimonious dispute between District 21 officials and the village of Buffalo Grove over who is responsible for paying their wages.

An electronic sign was set up near the intersection of Arlington Heights Road and Bernard Drive to remind drivers that students from nearby Longfellow Elementary School and Cooper Middle School would be crossing. The sign said "No crossing guard," "Watch for children" and "Obey all traffic laws."

Longfellow parent Julie Lee said her son enjoys walking to school every day, but without a crossing guard, the walk can be dangerous. They live on the west side of Arlington Heights Road, across from the school.

"That's part of our daily routine, and it's healthier to walk to school," Lee said while waiting for her son to cross. "Now I'm going to have to make sure I'm here every day because I don't trust the drivers on this corner."

Buffalo Grove had provided crossing guards at the intersections, but after the district refused to pay $24,000 for past services, the village announced it would end the service. Nearly three months of negotiations between the two sides failed to reach a resolution.

District 21 sent letters home to parents in November notifying them that Dec. 18 would be the last day crossing guards would be at the intersections, which also include Raupp Boulevard and Golfview Terrace near Kilmer Elementary School and Anthony Road and Cambridge Drive near Tarkington Elementary School.

District 21 spokeswoman Kara Beach said she was unaware of any complaints Monday about the lack of crossing guards. There are no plans in the works to replace them, she added.

The sidewalks between Longfellow Elementary School and the Arlington Heights and Bernard intersection were still covered with snow and ice Monday afternoon.

"You would think they would at least have these sidewalks clear," said Longfellow parent Nicole Makhlouf.

Beach said she is not sure who is responsible for clearing those sidewalks.

Buffalo Grove Deputy Village Manager Jenny Maltas said the electronic signs will remain in place outside the schools until Thursday.

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