Riverside to dig in its heels on D-96 crossing guard cost sharing issue

RIVERSIDE – For years, the village of Riverside and School District 96 have entered into an ad hoc cost sharing agreement between the two bodies to share the expense of paying for crossing guards at district schools.

Such casual agreements are over after District 96 rejected an inter-governmental agreement with the village to split the costs of the crossing guards' employment 50-50 at their Feb. 18 meeting.

On Thursday, Riverside trustees discussed the Board of Education's rejection of their offer, which trustees said was more than fair. Trustees agreed to again offer the board the 50-50 sharing option, with the village matching whatever funds the school district committed, but no more.

"I think we should dig in our heels," trustee Mike Foley said. "They have more money than we do."

Village President Ben Sells said the employment costs alone for the crossing guards cost just over $69,000, but administrative and equipment costs add another $17,000, bringing the total costs to about $87,000. In the past, District 96 paid about 22 percent of the employment costs alone.

When the school district asked for a formal agreement for the 2014-15 school year, the village responded by asking the school to cover half the costs of the crossing guards' employment, with the village continuing to pay the administrative and equipment costs. If the agreement was passed, the school district would have to chip in almost double what they are currently paying, from $18,000 to nearly $33,000 a year.

Sells said the village's offer was more than fair, considering Illinois law doesn't require the village to pay anything.

"It's more a matter of time and tradition than anything else," Sells said of the village and school district's previous agreements.

Trustees said that, even though they don't have to contribute anything, they were still offering to share the costs because the safety of students was the greatest priority.

But, trustee Joe Ballerine said it would be like the village going to District 96 and asking them to pay part of the village's costs of plowing and salting the villages streets.

Trustee Doug Pollock suggested that the village simply offer to match whatever funds the school committed, and if the school wanted to continue paying $18,000, the village would do the same, as well as continuing to pay for the administrative and equipment costs in full.