It took about a year for Oak Park to resolve the matter. In River Forest and Riverside, the battles are in progress. Who should pay for school crossing guards is an often-contentious issue between a village’s government and its elementary school district. But not in Forest Park.
Under a recent agreement unanimously approved by the District 91 school board, the school district will pay the village half of the $70,000 cost of providing school crossing guards.
“We worked together, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Village Administrator Tim Gillian told the Review.
In Forest Park, the village has traditionally paid for school crossing guards. Next year, the village will bill the school district monthly for half the cost of providing crossing guards – about $35,000.
The village employs 10 crossing guards as civilian employees of the police department, said police Lieutenant Michael Cody, who supervises Forest Park’s crossing guards. The guards work before school, at lunch time and after school. They work at such busy intersections as Circle and Madison, Randolph and Circle, Randolph and Des Plaines, and Harrison and Circle.
The crossing guards will remain village employees and the police department will continue to supervise the crossing guards.
“They will still get their paychecks from the village of Forest Park,” Gillian said
A few months ago, Gillian asked District 91 Superintendent Lou Cavallo if the school district would be willing to share the costs of paying the crossing guards.
Cavallo, knowing the tough financial condition facing the village, recommended to the school board that the school district share the costs of the crossing guards.
“We can afford it, and it’s a service our students can benefit from,” Cavallo said. “This is a service that the village has provided for our students, a service that I want to see continue.
“And if there are budgetary constraints that make it a possibility that that service might go away, I think that’s something that we’re obligated to help with so that our students still receive the service. I don’t want kids walking to school crossing the major thoroughfares without a crossing guard there.”
School board president Frank Mott said that deciding to share in covering this cost was a pretty easy decision for the board to make.
“We just thought it was being a good neighbor,” Mott said. “We just thought it was the right thing to do.”
Working together is what Forest Park is all about, according to the superintendent.
“It’s a cooperative effort,” Cavallo said. “It’s the kind of village we have. The police, the village, the parks, the library, the schools – we all work together and we help one another out. And that’s the way it should be.”