Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Loss Of School Crossing Guards: A Failure To Prioritize Student Safety

In April, I wrote a letter to the San Leandro Times stating that our schools and city were facing an unprecedented budget crisis and they should work together to address their fiscal challenges. I asked that the city not make any budget cuts that would hurt our schools. In particular, I called for the mayor and city council to reject the city manager’s proposal to terminate all school crossing guards.

As we know, the mayor and city council proceeded to end the program. Why would the mayor and city council risk the safety of children and their parents? Why is there not a true partnership between our city and schools?

City officials claim the cuts were necessary because the city has a large deficit. That is essentially what San Leandro City Manager Steve Hollister stated to CBS 5 local news when questioned on the elimination of the program. Likewise, the San Leandro Times reported that Mayor Tony Santos says that there simply is no room in the budget for the crossing guard program: "We just don’t have the money to fund it."

It's true that the city budget is seriously out of balance. City officials are amassing millions in red ink, burning through reserves, and placing the fiscal solvency of the city in jeopardy. Yet, remarkably, despite eliminating crossing guards, cutting six police officer positions, and reducing funding for senior services, libraries and pools, the city is spending more this fiscal year than last year.

Yes, you read that right. Last year the city spent $77 million. This year’s budget calls for $78 million in spending. There is no fiscal discipline at city hall.

The adoption of the city budget is the result of series of political decisions by the mayor and city council based upon the priorities and values held by our elected officials. If the mayor and city council prioritized the safety of children, they could have kept school crossing guards. The program represented only 1/8th of one percent of the city’s general fund.

Other cuts could have made. Cancelling free health club memberships for city managers would have been a good place to have started. The mayor and city council should promptly bring back the crossing guards.

4 comments:

  1. Crossing Guards don't have a powerful union or Pac.Maybe need a new organization to deal with the deficits called Patriotic Public Pensioners Program. All cities are in deep doo doo.
    Have the pensioners who are under 65 come in for a few hours a week and ask the regular employees to cut their hours. Hell people in the private sector are layed off and told to piss up a rope. Call it P4 my City.Ther must be plenty of bright young people in their 50's dying to help their faire city.
    The Income tax rate under Hoover was 25 percent in 1925 it jumped to 63% for income over $1 M during the New Deal and 94 percent in World War II

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  2. I diffidently agree with Mr Cassidy on this, it is a shame that there is no way that the city of San Leandro could come up with some money to pay the crossing guards. Perhaps by taking away such luxuries as gym memberships and I'm sure other things most of us don't even know about they would have found the money to pay these wonderful people that keep our children safe.

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  3. great blog..There are some really interesting articles featured by our experts on the bizymoms San-leandro community experts page.

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  4. How about San Leandro cuts out the $9.3M giveaway to the developer of the 'very-low income' BART/TOD development, aka, ghetto housing project? That could pay for crossing guards AND give people a nice property tax rebate.

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