Colwood council has reluctantly agreed to cover the costs of school crossing guards last year after falling short on business sponsors.
Guards at Sangster, Colwood and David Cameron elementary schools cost about $21,000 per year. Businesses covered all but $3,000 through the City’s “Adopt a Crossing” program during 2010-11.
Last week Colwood council voted unanimously to dip into its contingency fund to cover the shortfall for last school year and, if necessary, do it again this year.
“The mayor (Dave Saunders) and I are actively seeking business sponsors,” said Coun. Judith Cullington. “We’re hopeful something will come through so this doesn’t fall to the taxpayers again.”
For 2011-2012, Thrifty Foods has sponsored the crossing guard at Colwood elementary and Shaw Communications gave $7,000 to cover guards for half of the year at the other two schools. The City needs another $7,000 to cover the remaining cost of the program.
Several councillors expressed frustration that the responsibility for crossing guards doesn’t fall to the Sooke School District.
“The school district has a much larger budget than the City,” Coun. Ernie Robertson lamented. “Their primary responsibility should be for the kids—getting (them) to school safe, which includes crossing the street.”
Coun. Gordie Logan said it’s unlikely the school district will change its position on funding the guards anytime soon.
“Other municipalities are up against the same struggle,” he said. “Ultimately this is on our shoulders. We need to (guarantee the funding) to provide certainty to the parents that there will always be a guard there for their children.”
Lehigh Northwest Materials funded all three crossing guards until its gravel mine operation in Royal Bay closed in 2008.