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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Funding for Crossing Guards Again Absent from Budgets

PROGRAM NOT FUNDED FOR THE START OF SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR; SCHOOL STARTS AUG. 25
By Steven Tavares

With less than a month before the start of school San Leandro students may be without crossing guards at the start of the school for a second consecutive year. The city, already decimated by cuts to its workforce and services, did not allocate funding for crossing guards in its recently approved budget despite cries by a large number of parents and residents last year to reinstate the program.

The city and school district ultimately shared the roughly $100,000 cost of running the program in 2009, but only after parents and volunteers attempted to fill the gap in service for the first few months. A similar chain of events from last year is playing out again. Despite the loud criticism last fall, there was little talk among the city council during its long budget process for funding crossing guards. Mayoral candidates Sara Mestas and Stephen Cassidy alerted the council to the importance of the program, but like the year before, the city chose to forego funding.

"The proper time to raise their concern was during the budget process," said City Manager Stephen Hollister. "Why didn't they ask about it at the proper time?" Hollister said the city has already been forced to make drastic cuts to city employees along with the reduction and elimination of some services. The possibility of further cuts may be imminent if the quarter-cent sales tax measure slated for the ballot does not pass in November. He added there is no legal requirement for the city to provide crossing guards calling it a "municipal myth." Hollister also said "there's nothing to stop the [school] district from funding the guards."

Mestas, who first gained city-wide attention over the issue last year says the city is taking a hard line on the program to bolster its chances at the ballot box. "They are playing politics with our children. It's sickening they would risk the safety of our children for their bureaucracy," said Mestas. "I think they are so busy at city hall thinking about their paychecks that they just don't care." Mestas says the cost of the program is paltry compared to the overall budget in addition to its cost savings. She fears an accident involving a child walking to school would incur large off-budget expenses to the city's budget. "If a child gets injured or killed, how will they tell the parents it happened because they wanted to save 0.006 percent of their budget?"

Similar to last year's resolution when both sides split the cost of the program, Mestas believes the city will reluctantly make a deal. "I believe the city will try their hardest," she said, "but I think ultimately the city and school district will end up with the same deal." San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos said he would support any cost-sharing plan with the school district.

One alternative could again involve volunteers but any chance they could pick up the slack appears remote. Mestas, who volunteered as a crossing guard last year at her daughter's elementary school, says she already has parents lined up for duty. San Leandro School Superintendent Cindy Cathey, though, said while volunteers were helpful last year, too many logistical problems hamper the plan as a long-term solution. "Our experience showed that this is extremely challenging to maintain and sustain an all volunteer crew," Cathey said. "Family circumstances change which creates mobility of the crew and can cause gaps in the service, especially as last minutes issue come up."

The city and school district liaison committee will meet today to discuss the crossing guard issue. As school instruction in San Leandro begins Aug. 25, every day closer to the first day of school may renew anger in the city towards the its local government for inaction on a program many parents tie to overall public safety. A year ago, numerous council meetings featured a stream of critics who pilloried the city and school district for cutting off funding. Like this year, cuts to the program were approved well in advance of the coming school year, but opposition laid dormant as the opening day of instruction neared.

30 comments :

Mestas is right, this is playing politics with the public safety of children because Tony and Joyce don't have the political courage to make more cuts to San Leandro's bloated non-cop city workforce, nor the intellect to make smart budget decisions (like not paying $2 million for partial dredging of the Marina) or selling Albertson's at a loss to Joyce' developer buddies.

The city may not have a legal obligation to provide school crossing guards, but they have a moral obligation to do so, when so many of San Leandro's elementary schools are located across major arterial streets. (Which is the result of poor city planning, but that's what happens when out-of-towners like Luke Sims run the planning department).

Mayor Santos' contempt of San Leandro's public schools is apparent, he holds a personal grudge against Cassidy for challenging the status quo while he was on the school board; and Santos has a poor track record of working with the school district - including his refusal to acknowledge the impact of San Leandro Crossings on San Leandro's already over-crowded schools.

Perhaps Santos is just petty, though I think it comes from his personal desire that San Leandro schools not succeed, because with an educated populace, dolts like Santos wouldn't be elected. Joyce voted with her (or rather her child's) feet, so we know how she feels about San Leandro public schools - even after she served on the school board.

We sure don't have these problems in Pleasanton--city officials don't send their kids to private schools, and they sure as hell back the public schools. Mestas and Cassidy seem like the only mayoral candidates in this year's election who do...

Frank Lynn
San Leandro property owner

Well said Frank. Santos is a babooze who has to rely on ignorant, gullible peasants looking for a handout to get elected.

Incredible. Why is this happening again?

Frank Lynn says

Mestas is right, this is playing politics with the public safety of children because Tony and Joyce don't have the political courage to make more cuts to San Leandro's bloated non-cop city workforce, nor the intellect to make smart budget decisions (like not paying $2 million for partial dredging of the Marina) or selling Albertson's at a loss to Joyce' developer buddies.

Cut what? Name what you think can be cut. Also the Marina dredging comes from federal grants that have to go towards that specific project?

Frank Lynn just makes shit up. Also I love Frank complaining about his property value when he bought in the crappiest condo project in town. They couldnt sell those when they were new. They had to rent the complex out for years. As Maunel says, what a babooze

What can be cut, city pensions for one thing; city employees working on the "climate action plan;" the Redevelopment Agency; pensions for city council members, as well as their gym memberships. Cut the salary of a city manager to half of what it is. He doesn't need $250K in a town where the median income is $50K. The city doesn't need to hire consultants at $40K-$60K a pop to figure out how to pass more taxes in a recession.

If I made up the dredging vote and $2 million dollar figure from the city budget (not federal grants) then Mike Katz must have made it up too: http://www.sanleandrobytes.com/archives/007592.html

I'd like to see San Leandro do better, because I own property there, and there are a lot of really good people there who deserve better. It's frustrating to see all of the potential of the town being squandered just because of corruption and ineptitude.

The anonymous comment basically backs my claim about how the low-educated populace of San Leandro impacts its politics, and thereby San Leandro's current state of affairs: when you can't win an argument based on the facts, call the other person a liar and attack them personally. That's what Santos is doing to Cassidy-being the esteemed mayor that he is. Instead of being to logically debate issues, Santos wants to have a yo-mama style name-calling contest.

Frank Lynn

All of this discussion about $100,000 for cross guards for San Leandro is ridiculous. Paying crossing guards is not a public expense that taxpayers should bear. Children should be taught by their folks to cross the street safely. If they do not, they get hit. Their folks get to sue perhaps. Hospitals, lawyers, ambulances, police, grief counselors and morticians all have increased business. If the parents are concerned let them volunteer for their kids. If the parents do not care, so be it. Fewer kids and competition in the gene pool is not such a bad thing.

William Ide,

I hope you are being facetious, but given the level of intellect and mental disorder of liberalism in San Leandro, perhaps this is a serious argument?

The bottom line is that in uncontrolled intersections (which both Roosevelt and Washington Manner have for example), the pedestrian has the right-of-way. The problem is that motorists disobey the law in San Leandro and pose a threat to the kids, who by law, have to attend school.

Frank Lynn

Frank Lynn,

I actually was serious. And I am not a liberal. I think that it is time that citizens quit confusing safe streets, uncontrolled intersections, pedestrians, children and education as rights and not as the way too expensive entitlements that they are. The children are not required to walk to school unattended and unsupervised. Their parents, neighbors and friends should ensure their safety, not scarce civic funding. Their safety should be assured through actions, not through laws, taxes and expense. Maimed and killed pedestrians always happen at uncontrolled intersections until we get enough injuries. Then they get fixed once and for all. Spending money on crossing guards is ridiculous and wasteful.

They are going to school, why doesn't the schools foot the bill? If the city manager is right, we didn't anybody on the council and school board do something months ago. Where's the leadership? Where's Santos and Katz? That this is happening a second time really shows nobody cares much about the safety of children.

The schools cannot afford to be responsible for the actions of poor drivers, lousy parents, unsafe traffic engineering and the actions of criminals. Hold the schools and the teachers and administrators responsible for poor teaching results. Hold the others responsible for the safety of children. As a taxpayer I do not like supporting kids at all. I would rather support the jail to put the living failures in to when they are old enough to lock up.

I believe we are headed to sharing crossing guard expense 50/50 with the district.

Tony, that is a tragedy Do not back down. Crossing Guard expense should not be borne by the City. The cost of Crossing Guards for labor should be $0. The equipment should be purchased by PTA funds. No school district expense either. This is a parent responsibility.

Oh come on. This is ridiculous. Have the schools buy from bright yellow vests and have the Boy and Girl Scouts who are over age 10 volunteer to be crossing guards.
Manuel

This comment has been removed by the author.
This comment has been removed by the author.

Let me just explain the real issue here, the California Constitution says that law enforcement must keep public roadways safe, that is why when there is an event or something, say a Giants game, they must be there. Now the constitution, Declaration of Rights Article I, sec. 31, (f) For the purposes of this section, "State" shall include, but is not limited to, the State itself, any City, County, public university, community college within the state. (I ommitted some institutions you get the point) Now, Declaration of rights, Article I, Sec 28, (7), Finally, the people find and declare that the right to public safety extends to public and private primary, elementry, junior high, senior high, and community college, California State, University of California, and private colleges where staff and students have the right to be safe and secure in their persons.
Now there have already been law suit won in other cities for children who have been injured or killed in crosswalks where there should have been a crossing guard before and after school.
State of California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for streets, states that signs and lights have limitations, and it is recommended that if there is not a five minute gap in traffic there should be a crossing guard present, also if more than 300 cars pass the crosswalk before and after school in a 2 hour period the time doesn't have to be consecutive there should also be a crossing guard, bottom line accidents happen, they happened last year two kids got hit, and there were two accidents 30 ft from the crosswalks and thats only what Im aware of. It is only .006% of the budget and there are funds mandated by the State that can be used for Crossing Guards or people can volunteer but we need crossing guards. Just go to the Department of Transportation see for yourself what is going on in school zones when 300 kids are tryig to get to school at the same time.

Let me just explain the real issue here, the California Constitution says that law enforcement must keep public roadways safe, that is why when there is an event or something, say a Giants game, they must be there. Now the constitution, Declaration of Rights Article I, sec. 31, (f) For the purposes of this section, "State" shall include, but is not limited to, the State itself, any City, County, public university, community college within the state. (I ommitted some institutions you get the point) Now, Declaration of rights, Article I, Sec 28, (7), Finally, the people find and declare that the right to public safety extends to public and private primary, elementry, junior high, senior high, and community college, California State, University of California, and private colleges where staff and students have the right to be safe and secure in their persons.
Now there have already been law suit won in other cities for children who have been injured or killed in crosswalks where there should have been a crossing guard before and after school.
State of California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for streets, states that signs and lights have limitations, and it is recommended that if there is not a five minute gap in traffic there should be a crossing guard present, also if more than 300 cars pass the crosswalk before and after school in a 2 hour period the time doesn't have to be consecutive there should also be a crossing guard, bottom line accidents happen, they happened last year two kids got hit, and there were two accidents 30 ft from the crosswalks and thats only what Im aware of. It is only .006% of the budget and there are funds mandated by the State that can be used for Crossing Guards or people can volunteer but we need crossing guards. Just go to the Department of Transportation see for yourself what is going on in school zones when 300 kids are tryig to get to school at the same time.

Sara has a great point here. The city ponies up money for extra police for the Cherry Festival and Sausage Festival, and Farmer's market to keep the roads safe during these events, as is their duty. And no one is forcing anyone to attend these events. CHILDREN ARE FORCED TO ATTEND SCHOOL BY LAW! Therefore, we must protect them on their way to school.

And Tony "Sans-sense" Santos, if you were heading to a 50/50 agreement with the school board, why not put the dollar amount in the budget, or is that part of your great "negotiating" skill? If so, tipping your hand to your "opponent" (school district) on a public message board wasn't a very bright move. I guess your great negotiating skill is why San Leandro loses so many businesses and buys and sells properties at a loss, eh Tony?

Frank Lynn

This just in : William Idle and Tony Santos will be working as crossing guards.! Tony well he'll have lots of free time on his hands soon, and Idle because his type of gene pool needs to be reduced by one!

Sara and Frank, you need to brush up on the difference between a guideline and law. Note Article 42200, Section 1463 of the CA Penal Code. There are lots of laws about cross guards, but no requirements for having them. The funding for the guards may come from fines and forfeitures. That is the choice of either the city, county or school board. These are the guidelines for Thousand Oaks. The traffic deparment for San Leandro can tell you what they are for SL.
Case 1: Uncontrolled Locations
During school peak morning arrival and afternoon dismissal hours.
Vehicles: 300
Pedestrians: 20
City Standards
Vehicles: 300
State Standards
Vehicles: 350
Pedestrians: 40
Case 2: Controlled Locations
City Standards
Vehicles: 500
Pedestrians: 20
State Standards
Vehicles: 500
Pedestrians: 40

Anonymous here...just kind of lost here ....Ide you presented guidelines from the city of Thousand Oaks??? and all the numbers below...not sure what they mean or represent ..are they even for SL? or for Thousand Oaks....why did you not research for the city instead of thousand oaks? maybe santos city budget is for T.O. not San Leandro and so all the numbers are irrelevant

I am very clear on the difference of recommendations vs. laws/regulations. Did you know? What is required are Surveys of all the school zones, and a school route determined by the school district. I am sure they use the Article 42200 money for signs and lights, but the Department of Transportation says those crosswalks are not anymore safe than crosswalks without them. The dollar amount shared with the City, and Schools is 57K. I think that there should of been a moratorium on all salaries until we start treading above water, since the current administration spent all the money. Upwards of 10% each consecutive year after the surplus in property taxes. So if my kid were to get hit and I were to sue, I would first argue where were the required surveys and route plan from the school district? Then I would argue that the City and School district blatantly went against recommendations and tax payers concerns for crossing guards, but I guess you people won't be happy until San Leandro is a ghetto that families no longer want to call home. My children are too old for crossing guards by the way. Let me just say this also we don't care if it is some sort of volunteer program. Another thing, because I believe that it is pedesterians, parents, drivers, Cities, and School Districts that share the responsiblitie, I have produced an educational DVD one for children and one for parents, on how to be safe walking. I am not a liberal either, although I believe in freedom I am a moderate centric who believes what is right is right, and this is the right, moral thing to do period. I am not going to budge on this issue. Oh a drunk driver in the front of Corvallis Elementry School went right through a crosswalk after school hours almost hit 5 kids, a parent and myself. It happened very quick. Can you control that, I am telling you the City is headed for a major off-budget expense if someones kid gets killed, two kids already got hit last year without crossing guards.

I am very clear on the difference of recommendations vs. laws/regulations. Did you know? What is required are Surveys of all the school zones, and a school route determined by the school district. I am sure they use the Article 42200 money for signs and lights, but the Department of Transportation says those crosswalks are not anymore safe than crosswalks without them. The dollar amount shared with the City, and Schools is 57K. I think that there should of been a moratorium on all salaries until we start treading above water, since the current administration spent all the money. Upwards of 10% each consecutive year after the surplus in property taxes. So if my kid were to get hit and I were to sue, I would first argue where were the required surveys and route plan from the school district? Then I would argue that the City and School district blatantly went against recommendations and tax payers concerns for crossing guards, but I guess you people won't be happy until San Leandro is a ghetto that families no longer want to call home. My children are too old for crossing guards by the way. Let me just say this also we don't care if it is some sort of volunteer program. Another thing, because I believe that it is pedesterians, parents, drivers, Cities, and School Districts that share the responsiblitie, I have produced an educational DVD one for children and one for parents, on how to be safe walking. I am not a liberal either, although I believe in freedom I am a moderate centric who believes what is right is right, and this is the right, moral thing to do period. I am not going to budge on this issue. Oh a drunk driver in the front of Corvallis Elementry School went right through a crosswalk after school hours almost hit 5 kids, a parent and myself. It happened very quick. Can you control that, I am telling you the City is headed for a major off-budget expense if someones kid gets killed, two kids already got hit last year without crossing guards.

Those numbers are the same for all of California, San Leandro does not have it's own.... Maybe Hollister has his own, but he doesn't live here, why does he care if there is a pot facility, bad schools or dead kids.

Anonymous, the issue is clear. There are recommendations for Crossing Guards, not requirements. The city of SL does not have in ready access their standards. The point is that if the City or the SLUSD wants to pay for Crossing Guards they can. But they cannot. The more important issue is community involvement. In Fresno they have active volunteer programs for safe crossings. The facts are that you can ask all you want, but if there is no money, you cannot buy it, unless of course you want to support turning in to Vallejo.

Well I would make a cut to consultants and do my best to push for a moratorium on current raises before I cut the safety of little helpless children to save 57k. These kinds of decisions are killing our small community. The City and SLUSD must work with the community for a volunteer program, as a shared responsibilty or match the cost as before, that simple.

William Ide,

The point is budget priorities. $2 million for PARTIAL dredging to make a few boaters happy; or $57K to ensure the safety of young San Leandro school children WHO BY LAW MUST ATTEND SCHOOL. If you feel $57K for the safety of children is too much in the scheme of San Leandro's budget, then I sincerely hope you've chosen not to procreate...

Frank Lynn

Frank, Budget is it. Pure and simple. Keeping boaters happy is not in the cards. Cut it out and save $2M. Glad you use the all caps to remind yourself that the kids are supposed to go to school. But likely a larger issue is the groups that home school and deprive the district of that funding. That and the parochial kids. Students do not have to have crossing guards that are certified. They can have parents and volunteers or their parents can do a better job of getting their kids to school. Bottom line is there is not money for this. Save the $57K. I have no kids and chose long ago to not have any. If more had done that the world would be better off. I think those who can afford them need to pay for them, not me. The City has no money for less than critical items. Crossing guards are a good example of not too important in the scale of what is important. All you need to do is realize that there are some priorities and some nice to haves and some stuff you do not need. Quit grousing and balance the budget and cut out the unnecessary stuff.

The City found money to throw Maltester a going away funeral and even hired Crossing Guards for the people who were crossing E.14th St.
Manuel

Well Crossing Guards are only one component of responsible spending since let's just say there are more kids , and families in San Leandro than single people. BTW-San Leandro Unified School District approved their half for crossing guards last night so that they will be at 9 of the 13 schools when school resumes, I believe the S.L. council will make the same decision, now we have one year to set up a more viable solution, and Ide I have spent months dissecting the budget, in the last four years we have spent money in many of the wrong places. It is sad that the Marina has turned into a boatless swamp. Stop trying to take the small town feel away from our City! Nuff said.

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