Some members of the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education are not yet willing to split the costs of crossing guards for Hollywood School with the village of Brookfield.
At the school board’s Jan. 20 meeting, Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg appeared, via Zoom, to explain his request that the school district split the $14,000 cost of the three crossing guards that serve Hollywood School, which is part of Riverside’s school district but is located in Brookfield.
Since District 96 has split the cost of crossing guards in Riverside since 2014, Wiberg thinks it is only fair that the school district have the same arrangement with Brookfield.
But some District 96 school board members raised fairness issues of their own, wondering why Brookfield has not made the same request to Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 and Lyons School District 103, both of which have schools in Brookfield. Brookfield supplies crossing guards for those school districts as well.
“I feel that Brookfield is singling us out,” said school board member David Barsotti, who lives in the Riverside portion of the Hollywood neighborhood.
School board member Shari Klyber had the same concern.
“I would like to see three agreements being pursued at the same time,” Klyber said. “It’s an equity issue.”
Wiberg said he plans to approach Districts 95 and 103 shortly, but he noted that the situation with District 95 is different because the village already has an intergovernmental agreement with District 95.
The village’s recreation department gets free use of the new gymnasium at S.E. Gross Middle School and in exchange the village waives water fees for Gross School and the District 95 office in Brookfield. The village also trims trees on school property.
“I haven’t had any meetings yet, but I’m going to start with District 95,” Wiberg said.
Wiberg told the Landmark that an agreement with District 95 could be different than the 50/50 split he sought with District 96 because of the already existing agreement.
He said he contacted District 96 before District 103 because he has a close working relationship with District 96 and talks to Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye frequently about issues involving Hollywood School, for example when District 96 recently sought and won village approval for some on-street parking spaces for Hollywood teachers.
Wiberg said he has not yet dealt with District 103 in the nearly two-plus years he has worked in Brookfield.
“To be honest, I have not worked cooperatively with them yet,” Wiberg said. “This conversation started with 96, because Martha and I talk all the time on the other issues.”
Wiberg had hoped to have an agreement in place with District 96 to use as a model for working out deals with the other two districts.
District 96 board President Dan Hunt and former board president Jeff Miller have philosophical objections to the district contributing to paying crossing guards, who are village employees and overseen by the police department.
Hunt admitted that many other school districts do contribute to paying crossing guards, but he said that it didn’t seem like a cost a school district should assume.
“It still bothers me somewhat,” Hunt said adding that he would have voted against the cost-sharing agreement with Riverside had he been on the school board in 2014. “In my mind this is a public safety issue, not anything to do with education. It is for the benefit for students on the way to school. I do have some reservations with it.”
Miller noted that traditionally public safety is an issue for village government, not school districts.
“It’s not a huge amount of money but it is money being transferred from education to public safety, so I have some qualms about it as well,” Miller said.
District 96 board members Lynda Murphy and Joel Marhoul were amenable to cost sharing.
Murphy noted that the crossing guards serve the district’s schoolchildren and only work when school is in session.
“I fully support this cost-sharing agreement,” Murphy said. “We do have it with Riverside. I just want Brookfield to start discussions [with the other districts].”
District 96 board member Joel Marhoul was willing to approve a cost-sharing agreement with Brookfield even if the village did not have other cost-sharing agreements in place.
“If we have to take the first step, I’m OK with that,” Marhoul said. “I think this is a fair request.”