District 90 may pay for its own crossing guards next year, taking on an expense that has long been the responsibility of the village of River Forest.

After a contentious beginning to the debate, Dist. 90 Superintendent Thomas Hagerman said the school district is crunching the numbers with the village to see what it could pay for in a bare-bones operation.

However, the main issue of contention that remains is how the program would be operated.

According to Hagerman, taking a public safety program under its wing would be “a nightmare” from a liability standpoint.

As safety officials, crossing guards have a much greater insurance liability than teachers and administrators. Adding them under the school’s administrative structure would raise the schools’ insurance premiums, not to mention leaving them vulnerable in a lawsuit.

“The standard, if something happened, is what experience do you have in public safety issues and training crossing guards?” Hagerman said. “The answer, of course, would be little to none. That’s not what we do – we’re a school.”

The possibility that seems likely, the village and Dist. 90 both say, is the school paying the village to continue running the program.

“I think it’s very possible the village will administer the program basically the way it does today, and then Dist. 90 would reimburse us for our costs,” said Village President John Rigas. “We’re going to try and do something that will allow us to continue to have crossing guards.”

However, it’s unlikely the village would contribute anything beyond its expertise to the process, Rigas replied when asked if the village could contribute financially.

“I don’t think the village is going to pay for them,” he said. “We’re broke.”

Contact: bmeyerson@wjinc.com

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Ben Meyerson

Ben was Wednesday Journal's crime, parks, and River Forest reporter, until he kept bugging us enough to promote him. Now he's managing two of Wednesday Journal's sister papers in the city, Chicago Journal...