Private schools want Oak Park to pay for crossing guards

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Three private schools in Oak Park are urging the village to foot the bill for crossing guards for their respective campuses.

Since the village stopped funding crossing guards for public and private school intersections in 2010, the Catholic schools have been fending for themselves. Citing financial hardship, the village shifted that funding responsibility over to the schools, which balked at the idea.

Providing crossing guards, officials from the schools insisted, was the village's responsibility. After some back-and-forth negotiations, D97 agreed to fund crossings for its 10 schools. Those guards are provided by an outside vendor, Aurora-based Andy Frain Services, contracted through the village of Oak Park.

The village also wanted the Catholic schools to pay for its own guards. Those schools, however, argued that their budgets couldn't take on that extra cost.

Currently, St. Giles, 1034 N. Linden Ave., and St. Edmund, 200 S. Oak Park Ave., are sharing the cost of a single crossing guard. Ascension, 601 Van Buren St., however, has faculty out before and after school manning the streets.

Peter O'Leary, president of Ascension's school board, said there have been no recent talks with the village about changing its stance. O'Leary said he's had only a brief, casual conversation about the issue with President-elect Anan Abu-Taleb during the campaign. O'Leary noted that Abu-Taleb is a member of Ascension Church in Oak Park and may be more sympathetic to the school's cause. Ascension parents have setup a website detailing their crossing-guard campaign.

O'Leary said that the private schools should not be paying for crossing guards.

"This is a public-safety issue and that's something that's clearly the village's responsibility," he said. "Paying for crossing guards was not a possibility for us in terms of our budget."

The village estimates it costs around $6,500 per corner for a guard. In 2010, D97 agreed to fund 34 crossing guards for about $168,000. O'Leary said Ascension needs crossing guards at four intersections near the school, including Van Buren, Oak Park Avenue, and Garfield (or Harrison) at East Avenue. If the village also pays for the one guard for both St. Giles and St. Edmund, the total cost is $32,500.

"That's the cost of a teacher for our classrooms.

We can't be asked to pay that amount when the village can," O'Leary said.

He added that safety is the major concern for parents.

Some of the intersections near Ascension has cars zipping through, despite the presence of pedestrian signage. O'Leary said many students walk to and from school. The school did a survey of parents recently who walk with their kids to the school. Of the 168 parents who participated, more than half said they did.

With the spring elections over, O'Leary said the school will again raise the crossing guard issue with the village.

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Crosswalk lawsuits  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 2:45 PM

Post from Streetsblog yesterday about the crosswalk lawsuit topic...a recent court ruling says you can't sue a city for unmarked crosswalk accidents. Marked crosswalks are fair game.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 12:56 PM

I don't see it as a threat, Bridgett, just a reality to be considered. It's complicated. I think the right thing is to get safer paths to school done. But how we go about it is the question. Prevention should be the first goal. We all know there is a pedestrian safety's being addressed. Slowly. I just worry about the consequences should we not act fast enough.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 12:41 PM

I echo Speedway's sentiments. I do not think legal threats is the most effective stance to take in order to persuade folks to support Village tax dollars paying for private schools crossing guards.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 12:32 PM

For the record, Speedway, I don't have kids in schools--public or private. Just a fan of good policy. It's not fearmongering to point out a duty to think more longterm and carefully about potential risks. The whole picture. If we're willing to bet that nobody gets hurt...or that nobody tries to sue, fine. It's a cost-benefits analysis, right? If it were my kid injured, I would sue to make sure it never happens again. But do we really need for it to get that far to do the right thing?

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 11:58 AM

The argument that the village is responsible for the children crossing the street, potential lawsuits, etc., is rather distressing to hear. This fear-mongering and finger pointing of whose responsibility it is indicates a lack of maturity. This sounds like a squabble of children.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 10:26 AM

I think we can all agree that regardless of boring legal arguments, we'd prefer to not leave taxpayers open to any long, expensive legal battles over safety. Best to cover all the bases. If the Village is doing everything possible, it is going to be far less likely to draw criticism should a child be injured. If they can point to A, B, C, D that has been done around the Village it will help to defend against accusations that we're being reckless with our students.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 10:23 AM

Not necessarily, Legal Eagle. I'm not talking about immunity from failure to provide police protection. I'm talking about more generally about the effort to upgrade safety features at an intersection known to be at high-risk for crashes or with known pedestrian safety issues. Knowing and failing to act is a different kind of issue. I agree the village couldn't be responsible for not putting guards out...but not having guards certainly speaks to reasonable efforts to improve known dangers.

Legal Eagle from River Forest  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 9:24 AM

Safety - The provision of crossing guards is considered police protection. Section 4-102 of the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act immunizes local governments and their employees from liability for any failure to provide adequate police protection service. See Hernandez v. Kirksey, 306 Ill. App. 3d 912 (1st Dist. 1999). Thus, Oak Park would be entitled to immunity in your scenario.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 8:02 AM

Bridgett, chances are you'd name a bunch of parties in a lawsuit & see what sticks for liability...but depending on the circumstances of the accident, yep, the Village could have some negligence. Depends on if they knew about safety problems at that spot, what they did to try to avoid the situation. It'd be a nice ugly battle with insurance companies, the driver, heck some of the roads in the village (like Washington) are controlled by the state of IL. If it were my kid though, yep! Ugly.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 11:23 PM

I know budgets are tight, but the safety of children should be high on OPV's responsibility list. Maybe the village should assign the responsibility to the Sustainability Director. There is nothing in the village that needs to be sustained more than the safety of our children - public, private, Catholic, Protestant , or Muslim.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 10:16 PM

So if I get hit by a car, I should sue the Village?

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 9:27 PM

Let's put it this way for the dollars and cents folk, if a child is hurt trying to cross the street to get to a private school...the lawsuit isn't going to have that school as a defendant. Village of Oak Park is in charge of streets. And the payout may be millions. Which will then hit your pocketbook even harder.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 8:08 PM

What part of safety 1st's argument is wrong? I may never go to a park here in OP but I sure as heck help pay for those parks. I never use the gymnastics center but I help pay for it. Ditto for swimming pools and skating rinks. Should I get a refund? Funding for private schools is not part of what we paid for and if those parents are concerned, they can demand more of their staff or pay for it themselves. It's not our responsibility.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 7:01 PM

The 1st question most people ask a real estate agent--whether or not they have kids that are school aged--is how good the schools are where they are buying a home. I don't disagree that private & public schools both help property values...but only public schools are an obligation for the community to provide. And part of what makes up quality of education is whether or not the kids can make it to school safely.

4 Freedom  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 5:53 PM

I would think that people make the foundation of a community. Good schools don't just come out of no where and attract good people. Also, in my experience, good private schools and its community help property values too. So, in my opinion, Safety 1st continues to expand upon a nonconvincing argument, if you can call it that.

OP Transplant  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 3:12 PM

OP Resident - If everyone who currently sends their children to private schools instead registered them in their local district tomorrow, there would not be enough teachers, classrooms, or buildings. Districts would be absorbing hundreds or thousands of kids with no increase in tax revenue, since their parents are already paying taxes in their communities. Do D97 or D200 have the empty desks or idle teachers to educate these kids? Well, 200 could use their surplus.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 1:19 PM

Let's also not fail to mention here that the quality schools are part of what increases OP home value and makes this a desirable place to live. Not to mention that most people consider public schools a basic function like police, fire, animal control. Your tax dollars fund health inspections of restaurants you will never eat at, baseball fields you may never use...but these are foundations of a strong community.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 8th, 2013 1:04 PM

I don't know, Bridgett. I doubt that if these families moved that the homes would sit vacant. I think if you have moved to Oak Park, you plan to support the schools even when your children are out of school age. I again state that if you choose to live here but send your kids to private schools, it's a choice and that choice includes extras for which you may have to pay more.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 10:37 PM

@OP Resident, I don't know if I'd call it a ridiculous comment when over half the population of Oak Park is not in the public school system, nor has any kids in the system. It is true that without non-attendees' tax dollars, D97 and D200 (or any public school system) would not survive. So it is kinda nice for those who do have kids in the public school system, that the other half of the population choose Oak Park as their home, and therefore are helping to foot the bill.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 9:19 PM

@OP Transplant, it isn't true that public schools couldn't survive without the people who pay taxes and send their kids to private schools. That's a ridiculous comment. No one cares that they send their kids to private school EXCEPT when they start begging for things. At that point, I say yes, send them all to public school and they will have crossing guards. Close private schools!

OP Transplant  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 6:11 PM

I'm always surprised when I read comments from people who seem to resent parents sending their kids to private schools - the "they chose to send their kids to private school" attitude. We should be thanking every parent of school-age kids who pays taxes but then doesn't send his kids to the schools. The public districts could not survive without these parents.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 2:07 PM

Just a correction to what I wrote: Oak Park has six taxing bodies (not five): Elementary School District 97*Public Library*High School District 200*Township* Park District*Village

Mario Andretti from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 11:28 AM

Which is why I would love to see speed bumps put it in at stop signs near schools and parks since grown adults who know better need a bigger incentive than a moving violation to stop for signs. Sad.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 11:15 AM

I certainly think there is an enforcement element...but at our problem intersection we have cops sit here almost daily writing ticket after ticket but you can't change driver behavior that way. Better designs exist traffic-wise. But you're right, it's the same for or bikes shouldn't have to compete versus heavy metal boxes with wheels for safety, but it's better to protect the vulnerable than assume all motorists will comply with the obvious.

Mario Andretti from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 10:54 AM

64 comments and only one mentioning the fact that maybe DRIVERS should bear the majority of the responsibility to stop for signs. Why do people crossing streets need to be on the lookout for a 2,000 pound car with a moron at the wheel who won't stop for a sign or light? Unbelievable.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 8:48 AM

You've hit the nail on the head, Bridgett. If this is a public safety issue (which it is), then the Village needs to do all it can to make the streets safe to cross for students. All of them. And if it doesn't, it could be opening itself up to liability issues...especially if it has prior knowledge of crash/safety data--which it does for numerous bad places to cross. We'll probably all pay one way or another. Might as well be preventative.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 1:56 AM

If this is a matter of public safety (which I am not saying it is or isn't) wouldn't the Village, if they did pay for crossing guards for private schools, also be obligated to pay for crossing guards for public schools? If the Village does it for the private schools, then D97 and D200 would argue that they shouldn't have to pay for their crossing guards, if it's a matter of public safety. Remember: We have five separate taxing bodies in OP. It's not one big pot of cash.

@How About  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 9:40 PM

Many of us feel that OP schools do a good job and are safe. You have your own criteria and obviously maybe you aren't comfortable with all the kids in Oak Park for whatever reason. We don't need to get into a public vs private debate on quality of schools. Right now we are talking about a service that private schools want but are evidently unwilling to pay for out of their own pockets.

4 Freedom  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 7:48 PM

There a lot of desperate pets that need to be walked in Oak Park. Let's start a PUBLIC SERVICE and have the village hire walkers to walk all dogs in the village every 3 hours. It's our right since it benefits everyone because everyone can have a dog if they want.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 7:42 PM

4 Freedom, the very definition of a public service is that it benefits the public at-large. We do things like road work, have police, crossing guards, etc. because we've decided that certain things require doing by public authority. Let's all go back to civics class from HS and remember our lessons. The village-wide pedestrian problem is squarely in the lap of VOP.

4 Freedom  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 6:53 PM

@Just Sayin', I am not going to ask for anything because I have integrity unlike like you do with your "HELL NO" threats. Also, I don't see the logic when you say we pay a stupid level of taxes but then in the same breath say we should perpetuate them with more services? Oak Parkers need to make more logical decisions rather than emotional ones.

4 Freedom  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 6:47 PM

Safety 1st, you tell people to grow up, and I could find a 5th grader to trump your slippery slope. Labeling something as a public service doesn't mean that the government should provide it or that people are entitled to provide it.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 4:56 PM

When you go back and reread all the comments on this article, you have to wonder what the problem really is. I feel it's the general taxes we pay to live in OP. They are way to high. Nothing OP does is going to benefit everyone. Maybe we need to work out reducing items in school budget, decreasing taxes paid to schools by a small smidgeon, increasing by a similar amount to the village and then letting the village pay for crossing guards for all OP elementary schools. No increase in taxes.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 4:30 PM

Wow, you all have a very warped idea of what public money pays for. Umm, it's money we all pay for public services--regardless of whether or not you choose to use them! I pay for the fire dept but I don't use that on a regular basis. lol Grow up and pay for the freakin crossing guards already.

Just Sayin' from People's Republic of Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 3:23 PM

Why should anyone have to go door-to-door to keep kids safe with the stupid level of taxes Oak Parkers pay? Seriously? That's okay, but keep in mind when your little snowflake needs something, I'm saying HELL NO. Oh, wait, we already had to pay for the IRVING PLAYGROUND AND EVERY OTHER SCHOOL'S $#*&%! PLAYGROUND TOO!

How about from OP  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 3:13 PM

Or how about the public schools just actually provide a decent education and a safe environment so families don't need to send their kids to private school? Oak Park schools' best days are far behind them while higher taxes are still in front of us.

Priorities from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 3:11 PM

Why should private school kids be endangered when the taxes that Oak Parkers pay are WASTED REGULARLY by the public schools and the Village? How about the Village pays one less consultant (for a foregone conclusion) or the district pays less for any of its no-bid contracts for services? It's shameful that your priorities come down to "That's Someone Else's Problem"

Private School  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 1:49 PM

@Jim, what is wrong with the picture is that parents who choose to send their kids to private school want the rest of Oak Park to pay for the crossing guards. It's a choice to send your kid to private school. It's the same reason that Oak Park doesn't pay for playgrounds on private schools or any other need the school has. They are privately funded and their crossing guards should come through their private funds or parent donations.

Jim from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 7:36 AM

Oak Park Priorities: $115K for new early child development program. $0 for safety of school children. The first is a trendy, popular program; the second a mundane government safety function that impacts kids in all schools. What's wrong with this picture

OP Resident  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 7:55 PM

@The Price of Freedom, we aren't getting "free rides" either because we are paying our taxes. And we are choosing to trust in our schools (part of the reason many of us moved to the village) and believe in public education. So your idea of a free ride is a bit ludicrous since we have huge property tax bills just like you. The difference is we choose public education. If you choose not to, then you have to pay the extra required. Sorry, it's your choice.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 7:52 PM

No, private school parents should not get a refund of their taxes. They choose to live here, they choose to not make use of the public schools so the crossing guard issue is up to them and their respective school. No one wants any students hurt but if you are that adamant about the issue, work with your school to resolve paying for crossing guards. It is not up to the rest of Oak Park to pay for your choice.

4 Freedom  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 6:19 PM

@Better Safe Than Sorry from OP, your threats are baseless. If its so important why do you go door to door to collect money for cross guards. Don't tell me you would rather force others to pay for your kid's safety.

4 Freedom  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 6:09 PM

@The Price of Freedom, with your comment you are no better than them asking people with no kids to pay for public schools and crossing guards for both public and private schools.

concerned parent from Oak Park  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 4:36 PM

I find it interesting that no one has brought up the fact that the village pays for crossing guards for other village events. Am I incorrect to assume that the village is footing the bill for the crossing guards at the farmers' market & at OPRF sporting events? I think it's safe to assume that many attending these events are not village residents, but we provide crossing guards in the interest of public safety. ALL children walking to school deserve the same protection.

Better Safe Than Sorry from OP  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 4:19 PM

The money being talked about here is a tiny rounding error on D97's budget. Seriously, our taxes just paid for millions in playgrounds for each D97 school, and yet no one can be bothered to be sure that all Oak Park children can get to school safely? Wow...if just one child gets hurt (heaven forbid!), I would expect litigation holding the Village accountable.

The Price of Freedom from Oak Park  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 4:11 PM

@4 Freedom: I'm sure that private school parents would love to pay for those crossing guards -- just refund them the tax dollars that they pay, but aren't using, from the public schools and they will pay for the guards and many other things from that substantial sum. It's so easy to for public school parents to say "you pay for it" while they free ride on others' taxes with multi-million dollar school budgets, then cry poor and pass a referendum for new playgrounds and iPads. Wanna go there?

4 Freedom  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 11:26 AM

Let's all play pass the buck! The only people that should pay for the guards anywhere are the parents of the children who are crossing the street or the people that feel it is a priority. If safety is an issue start a charity that collects from concerned citizens and then employs guards. Quit guilting people and forcing people to pay for your choices. Be accountable!

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 10:57 AM

@OP Resident: Yes, all Oak Parkers pay exorbitant taxes. And, yes, Catholic school parents have made a choice to send their children to a school that they feel will be best for them, and it's not public schools. Still, the idea that because we've made that choice that we somehow forfeit our ability to have our children walk safely to school is absurd. Further, those children who are walking to Oak Park private schools are likely the children of Oak Parkers (since walking from Berwyn or Cicero is unlikely). I'm very happy with the way that the school is being run, but I'm not so happy with the way the Village is choosing to de-prioritize basic public safety responsibilities and dump them on schools.

OP Resident   

Posted: May 5th, 2013 8:25 AM

@Ascension parent of 3 -- of course only Catholic school parents pay EXORBITANT taxes in Oak Park right? (A lot of kids in these schools don't live in OP.) Kids should be safe. The Catholic schools should feel that way and pay for the guards. Public schools are that and private are a choice. If you are unhappy how your school is being run, you have the choice to leave it. Demand the schools pay for the guards even if it means adding to your tuition. You can't have it both ways.

Wendy Schmiedeler  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 7:30 AM

In 2010 the cost of providing crossing guards for Ascension was estimated at 1/3 of 1% of the village's budget. I think our kids are worth that. The village pays to have full-time police officers at Brooks and Julian. Public safety? We are not asking for police officers, just crossing guards.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 4th, 2013 9:39 PM

Don't know if anyone remembers, but years ago this was done by older children in the school, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. They used to wear special belts outside their clothes to indicate their status. Only adult guards were used at major intersection. This was an honor to be a crossing guard. Just thought I toss that out.


Posted: May 4th, 2013 6:11 PM

I think this is a responsibility of the village and should not have been parceled to the district. I wonder if it would be more affordable or efficient to have this assigned to park district or public works staffers. It is tough to staff a position that offers such limited hours - two in the am, two at 3pm, but maybe incorporating this into an existing division of village services would work better. it used to be a division of Oak Park Police Dept.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: May 4th, 2013 1:47 PM

not disputing that the private schools need crossing guards, but I really don't think it's the city's responsibility to provide them. That's a whole lot of money when you start adding in the various Montessori and other alternative schools on top of the private Catholic schools. If the school cannot afford it they will need to raise the tuition to pay for it... not something that folks will want to hear but there is a reason that we have public schools...

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 4th, 2013 9:31 AM

By the way, if you doubt the need for crossing guards, just try to cross Oak Park Avenue at Van Buren between 7:30 and 7:45am on any given weekday. You'll see that it's risky for adults, and that the risk of children getting hurt or worse is quite real.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 4th, 2013 9:28 AM

As an Oak Park taxpayer and a parent of children who go to Ascension School, I'm tired of being made to feel that because we've made the choice to send our kids to a private school, that we're somehow excluded from the basic protections that the Village should be providing based on the taxes that we have already paid. We feel that the basic protections that parents of public school kids expect should extend to ALL children in Oak Park. (By the way, if something this basic can't be accomplished, don't be surprised when the conversation turns to school vouchers and other was that the many private school parents in Oak Park will be looking to see the value of their tax dollars).


Posted: May 3rd, 2013 11:16 PM

My goodness. Are we really debating the safety of children over the financial burden...Seriously, put crossing guards where children are in danger. End of discussion. We're a village of smart people regardless of our education or our district boundaries or public vs. private. Find a way.

Wendy Schmiedeler from Oak Park  

Posted: May 3rd, 2013 4:59 PM

What this article fails to mention is that in 2010 when District 97 agreed to pay for crossing guards, the village agreed to pay for the SROs previously funded by D97. In essence, the village and District 97 simply swapped line items in their budgets. Neither entity "added" an expense to their budget. Kids crossing village streets is a public safely issue, regardless of their destination.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 5:40 PM

Jim: all I am asking for is an out of the box attempt at a solution to a problem. I used to get the teenagers who had to work off community service hours to come to the station on saturdays and hand wash squad cars. The village saved, not much, kids got to work off time. buckets were used, no hoses. maybe it is time for me to make a pitch and plan.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 11:03 AM

My earlier comment isn't just in general, to clarify. I'm talking about the Village being aware & failing to address the data on a few key intersections. Though we do have a safety problem for pedestrians across the entire Village. The question is how to solve the problem in a cost-effective way. Zero tolerance for drivers with police enforcement? Infrastructure that has safety as a built-in feature? IMO crossing guards and police writing tickets are inferior to better design.

Wrong OPriorities from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 9:52 AM

I don't believe that the village "knowing" that cars + kids = danger makes them liable in the event of an accident. However, this is a service that should be funded by either VOP or D97. They just committed $400k /yr to private "preschools", perhaps we could put some of these daycare pluses near the private schools and Ms. Song can shake her ROI feel good wand for these kids too. Or is there no payoff in providing protection to children north of the expressway?

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 9:42 AM

Kelly, you want crossing guards for kids going to school. You do not want crossing guards for just anyone at anytime to help them cross the street. So it looks to me as a school issue. Since it is not a service for the public at large but for school children. That seems to be your argument for VOP to fund this cause. You are probably the parent of a private school child and do not want to pay for more tuition. So let the whole community pay for it. Maybe they will agree with you, I don't t


Posted: May 2nd, 2013 6:59 AM

@Speedway: the Village used to pay for the crossing guards for ALL schools, but after the D97 referendum passed, the Village saw an opportunity to push the cost onto D97. The Village should be paying this expense for all intersections that need a crossing guard. It's a public safety issue, not a school issue.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 12:14 AM

Jim, I agree that the VOP has spent too much money on outside consultants. To suggest the VOP pay for crossing guards for private schools opens up a new issue as to why they don't pay for guards for public schools. VOP may need to put up a streetlight or two on dangerous intersections. I don't want to use my tax dollars for the personal choices of others in choosing private vs. public schools.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 10:53 PM

Brian, my comments were based upon personal experience and certainly not intended to demean anyone who donates their time and energy to help others and our community. During my tenure as FLW 10K race director, we relied upon volunteers to help with set up, race day registration, traffic control, water and first aid stations. They did a terrific job but quite few did not show up on the day some heavy thunderstorms hit Oak Park. Expecting people to be standing out on the corner during a rough Chicago winter is asking a lot. No question it could be done but spending $6,500 for a part time worker does not seem to be an extravagance the Village cannot afford. We've got outside counsel billing taxpayers many times that amount for some very questionable legal involvements. Add it all up and there's a lot of money going out the door.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 10:00 PM

Jim: I disagree. Are the vast majority of PADS workers volunteers? How about PTA? Pay doesnt make someone show up for work.Lee Iacocca worked for a dollar a year at Chrysler.All I ask is that we try to ask unemployed PADS guests,seniors (OP & Wash)and people who need to do community service to help safe guard the kids.During the drought homeowners were asked to water parkway trees while the fire department flushed millions of gallons of water down the sewer while flushing fire hydrants.

RF resident  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 9:35 PM

Kate - the energetic woman at Jackson and Chicago in River Forest is a paid crossing guard for District 90 schools, not a parent volunteer. Her name is Betsy and she is absolutely fantastic. FYI: a crossing guard got hit on Lake Str. in the fall - everyone is speeding or texting. We need more crossing guards and more police enforcement for the safety of all pedestrians.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 9:02 PM

No doubt, Kate. There are dedicated parents and concerned citizens who might be willing to serve as a volunteer crossing guard. But, relying upon folks to show up in all types of weather for 180+ mornings and afternoons is risky and would require someone able to coordinate assignments and supervise. That's a lot of work. There's money in the Village budget that could and should be allocated. It's just a matter of prioritizing. Do we really need to continue to award rich contracts to outside consultants to produce reports that advise the trustees our community needs improved signage, more parking spaces and public seating areas. That's the jist of what we got from one consulting firm hired to evaluate the business district that runs on Chicago Ave. from Marion to Harlem. The tab for such invaluable insight? $60,000! For decades, Oak Park has been doling out these goofy deals, often without any competitive bidding process, for "expert" advice. Millions has been spent and in too many cases wasted. The reports are reviewed and then filed away. And end to this practice and a policy that requires that no bid contracts will no longer be awarded, expect for emergency situations, would serve us better and provide funds for programs that offer real benefits to our citizens, especailly those most vulnerable. I do agree with you, "we can figure this out".

Kate from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 6:57 PM

I'm not convinced that a committee of parents couldn't be counted on to reliably show up and make sure their collective children get to school safely - that argument doesn't hold up to close examination. Who else besides me drives west on Chicago Avenue in River Forest and sees the energetic, friendly woman who helps the children cross just east of Lathrop? She's there rain or shine. Come on, Oak Park, we can figure this out.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 6:37 PM

Brian, very difficult to rely upon unpaid staff or volunteers to consistently show up for duty. Better to find the money in the budget of Village government or the archdiocese. The children have to be protected and it's the responsibilty of adults to see that they can walk to school without dealing with distracted or reckless drivers. Let's take action now rather than having to deal with the problem after a tragedy.

Mr. Borderman   

Posted: May 1st, 2013 5:31 PM

One more: get somebody to do something about the Fenwikc students who run across Madison at Scoville (crossing back and forth to the 7 Eleven) and endanger themselves and pedestrians. It's clear that the Fenwick administration doesn't give a damn what happens to them.

Mr. Borderman  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 5:30 PM

Though I am not a fan of tax free religious organizations using taxpayer funded services, I support this request, since it would also protect drivers from the impulsive and dangerous behavior of these children. And while we're at it, let's get a crossing guard at the corner of Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street to keep OPRF students from running in front of oncoming cars and endangering themselves and drivers with their stupid, reckless behavior.

Brian Slowiak from oak park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 5:02 PM

As a retired police officer, i have two part time jobs. i would be a crossing guard in my own community,but i havent been asked. As a resident and a police officer I worked the crossing on my own time in the rain and cold so the kids woulnt have to. I only know of two retired police officer s in Oak Park.For all we know sense of duty is calling retired officer to work the neighborhoods they live in.Parents and retired members might want to volunteer for the assignment.


Posted: May 1st, 2013 5:00 PM

Speedway-Agrred that perhaps some trained volunteers could step in but that's more of a short-term solution. And I understand folks w/ no kids in the school system pay taxes too, but those taxes would be even higher if the private school kids decided to attend public schols tomorrow. So a very small financial outlay in additional crossing guards pays off in the long run.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 4:54 PM

If this is such a concern to parents of these private schools, are any parents who do not work willing to "man" these intersections for the kids or is it always the responsibility of the other guy. Perhaps it is time to step up for what you believe is so important.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 4:48 PM

The question is, whose responsibility is it to hire and pay for school crossing guards? With the VOP divesting itself of this responsibility, it goes back to the schools. As much as parents of students who choose to have their kids in non-public schools to pay increased tuition costs for this service, they have a choice on using public schools. As to their paying taxes for public schools, there are many out there who also pay for school taxes who do not even have kids.

Safety 1st  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 4:30 PM

The Village is well aware of serious pedestrian/crosswalk problems in multiple areas. Which leaves them on the hook should the worst happen at one of these intersections. If nothing else, it should be looking at the financial risk in NOT beefing up safety. There should be crossing guards, better enforcement, better infrastructure. It's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Mario Andretti from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 4:15 PM

Mary Roucka (if that's your real name) - distracted by what? Stop signs? Traffic lights? Their phone? Their hot coffee in their cup holder? What could be so distracting that stopping at a signed intersection is so difficult - other than it being a nuisance for you perhaps?

Jane from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 3:26 PM

The Village should be paying for crossing guards at all the schools, both public and private. The 2010 decision to force the schools to absorb the cost was a bad one, and should be reversed.

Mary Roucka from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 2:46 PM

Mario Andretti's (why aren't you using your real name) comments are irrelevant to keeping kids safe walking to school. Walk anywhere in this town, and chances are you've barely avoided being hit by a distracted driver more than once. Many people drive distractedly, especially on their way to work- that's a fact. The school district should be funding the crossing guards for ALL schools. We all pay property taxes.

Mario Andretti from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 1:19 PM

Perhaps current police officers should be more diligent in enforcing the law and protectors for our children crossing busy streets.


Posted: May 1st, 2013 12:47 PM

Perhaps retired police officers would be more appropriate role models and protectors for our children crossing busy streets.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 12:46 PM

Compare the cost of providing one crossing guard to the amount of money the Village spends each year on consultant services, outside legal fees and no bid contracts. Tough to understand how the financial hardship cited by the board to justify eliminating a vital public safety service does not apply to the millions allocated for the "expert" opinions, studies,reports,etc.,. that the trustees cannot seem to do without.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 11:56 AM

or, we could ask some of the unemployed PADS guests to our neighborhood s to return the volunteer effort and effort and volunteer to cross our children.


Posted: May 1st, 2013 11:43 AM

OP residents who pay property taxes but send their kids to private school are doing the district a favor financially. I think it's a fair trade to provide the necessary crossing guards in exchange for the lower headcount in our public schools and corresponding improved teacher/student ratio.

Mario Andretti from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 11:28 AM

Really? There are people in OP that don't stop for stop signs or red lights? Not in our town! I love comments from people about other people's driving habits. I'm sure all of you stop at every stop sign or red light when you get to one - and before the crosswalk to make sure no one is crossing in front of you. "Do as I say, not as I do."

Ascension parent of three from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 10:10 AM

I have walked my kids to school from Taylor up Van Buren for years and almost daily have to keep them out of harm's way from inattentive drivers. An adult pedestrian has the experience to anticipate bad drivers- kids do not. Catholic school families in Oak Park pay EXORBITANT property taxes, and as Peter said in the article, this is a public safety issue.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 8:44 AM

Why cant we use people who are in need of completing community service to work as crossing guards?we have a need for service, and a group of people who need to complete service.

Ascension Mother of 4 from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 8:19 AM

My kids cross at Jackson and Oak Park at the light and have been nearly hit by cars turning right on red. At Van Buren and Oak Park they stand waiting for cars to stop as state law requires. The sign in the street looks like it has been hit; it has many scrapes and black marks on both sides. I do drive them most of they year, but when the weather is nice, in the fall and the past few weeks, they want to walk or ride bikes. It is frightening to see kids attempting to cross Oak Park alone.

Ascension Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2013 7:40 AM

Teachers are only working as crossing guards on the streets abutting the school. NO ONE is manning the intersection of Oak Park Ave. and Van Buren where kids risk their lives every day.

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