On April 4, the City Council voted unanimously to pass the 2017 budget, which did not include funding for the Crossing Guard Program previously administered by the O’Fallon Police Department.
In 2015, the police department, also known as the Public Safety Department, completed a thorough analysis of its contributions to local school districts through the Crossing Guard Program.
The Public Safety Committee, made up of Council Chairwoman Courtney Marsh, Vice Chairman Kevin Hagarty, Herb Roach, Ned Drolet, Robert Kueker and Matt Smallheer, were presented, along with every other O’Fallon City Council member, with a report completed by the police department.
Each member of the council had eight months to review the report prior to the city’s budget reveiw process.
It is important to note that at every step of the budget process, from the initial report in August to the public safety committee review of the budget on March 14, 2016, to the Finance Committee review of the budget on March 28, to the full consideration of the council on April 4, no member of the council ever inquired, questioned or asked to amend the budget to include funding for the crossing guard program.
As you know, the police department’s review determined that it had become increasingly difficult for the police department to administer the program. On many occasions, the police had to pull full-time uniformed police officers off their patrol assignments to cover crossing shifts when crossing gurards were unavailable. This situation created a risk to O’Fallon’s residents by tying up law enforcement during peak rush hours — preventing them from managing traffic enforcement.
After the council’s final action on the budget, last week I sent letters to the school districts infoming them that the program was not budgeted. This was done at the end of school so that they would have enough time to find alternate plans to take over the administration of the crossing guard program.
Because the safety of our children is a priority of mine, Police Chief Eric Van Hook and I met with District 90 officials, and talked about the city continuing funding of the program if the schools agree to take over administration of the program.
O’Fallon District 90 Superintendent Carrie Hruby informed me that she would have to take the issue to the school board. I told her that if the discussions with the board were positive, I would present the proposal to the council. I have decided to not wait for the school board’s decision after talking with parents this past week, and therefore, I am asking the council to authorize the city to offer the school districts the $42,000 in funding if they will administer the program for the 2016-17 school year. This will ensure that when students return to school this fall, O’Fallon will have a fully functioning crossing guard program.
O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham