School district will pay half of crossing guard expense

Photos by Tom Rivers: Charles Ricci, a part-time employee with the Albion Department of Public Works, directs traffic this morning in front of the middle school on Route 31. Ricci and other village employees have been filling in as the crossing guard in the morning and afternoon on school days.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 November 2017 at 12:54 pm

ALBION – Board of Education members agreed to have the school district contribute $2,500 this school year towards the cost of having a crossing guard in the mornings and afternoons on Route 31 in front of the middle school.

“Let’s be amicable to try to work together and have a crossing guard,” Margy Brown, president of the Board of Education, said during Monday’s BOE meeting.

Linda Weller, a board member, said she wasn’t happy how the village notified the school district in early September there wouldn’t be a crossing guard due to the expense, an estimated $5,000 a year.

“They made a bad decision,” Weller said. “Now they have egg on their face and we’re supposed to help them.”

Board members in September said the school district would help fund the position. Brown even attended a Village Board meeting to say the school district would share in the cost.

“We said in good faith at a meeting that we would help,” Brown said during the Monday evening meeting.

The village by law is the only municipal entity that can hire a school guard. A village by law doesn’t have to provide a crossing guard.

The Village Board during its budget negotiations last April decided against having a crossing guard. The village didn’t relay that to the school district until right before the start of the school year in early September. After an outcry from the community, the village has been having police officers and Department of Public Works employees fill in as crossing guard.

The village also redefined the position and sought applications for the part-time job. The board is expected to discuss the position during its meeting on Wednesday evening.

Charles Ricci stops traffic so two middle school students can cross Route 31 this morning.

Village Attorney John Gavenda sent a letter on  Oct. 11 to Michael Bonewell, the district superintendent.

“The Village would appreciate any contribution the Albion Central School might deem appropriate,” Gavenda said in the letter.

Board of Education members were hoping the village would specify a dollar amount, rather than leave it open-ended.

Brown led the discussion and is suggesting the school district pay half the costs. The other board members, including Weller, agreed.

Bonnewell, the district superintendent, said both the school and village face tax cap constraints. However he said the district, with a nearly $35 million budget, can better absorb the cost than the village, which has a budget of about $6.6 million.

The school can accommodate the $2,500 for the crossing guard partly because the district is spending less than budgeted for gas and utilities so far this school year, Bonnewell said.

The district’s $2,500 contribution is good for this year only and will be revisited in the future.

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