O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon committee recommends reinstating crossing guard program

The Public Safety Committee on Monday considered a proposal that will reinstate the local crossing guard program.

The aldermanic committee on Monday will recommend reinstating the program in its entirety. Last year the program cost $42,000 before administrative costs. Last year administrative costs were about $32,000, according to Mayor Gary Graham.

The committee voted 4-2 following a 75-minute meeting held at the O’Fallon Public Safety Building.

O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham on Friday last week called on the City Council to reinstate funding for the program.

“After talking with parents this past week, I am accelerating those discussions and formally asking the Council to authorize O’Fallon’s Administration to offer the school districts $42,000 in funding for them to administer a crossing guard program,” he said.

Graham did not attend Monday’s meeting.

O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook on Monday told the public safety committee they had three options to consider, including:

▪ remaining status quo;

▪ fund the program and have schools administer it; and

▪ the city no longer funding or administering the program.

Van Hook said his officers will do whatever the city council recommends.

But he warned the committee that a sergeant will be assigned to administer the program.

He said he will also have police officers continuing to staff crossing guards when a crossing guard fails to show up for work or not.

O’Fallon has had a crossing guard program for at least 25 years.

On Friday of last week, Graham said the city will be getting out of the crossing guard business. He said he decided to discontinue the program because of police manning issues and the cost. He said the police are having difficulties finding reliable people to work as crossing guards and that they often had to pull its police officers off the street to work as crossing guards during the busiest periods of the day.

There are seven crossing guard locations in O’Fallon, serving District 90 and St. Clare Catholic School. District 104 and District 203 do not have crossing guards.

Graham noted on April 4, O’Fallon’s Council unanimously voted to pass the 2017 city budget. The $67.7 million budget did not include funding for the crossing guard program.

Graham pointed out that the City Council reviewed and discussed the budget several times. First in the Public Safety Committee meeting on March 14, then at the Finance Committee meeting on March 28, and again on April 4, at the City Council Meeting when the full City Council voted unanimously to pass the budget with no recommendation to fund the crossing guard program.

The city informed school districts in 2009 that the crossing guard program would be reduced from 11 locations to seven, Van Hook said. The city told school officials then there might be a day when the city dropped the crossing program completely.