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School Board Concerned For Student Safety
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A student crossing guard stops traffic for students to cross the street in front of Fair Oaks Elementary on the first day of school on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Fair Oaks staff also stood at the nearby, congested intersection of Lee and Pontiac to help ensure student safety. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader
The Oakdale school board is concerned about student safety with the lack of enough volunteers to serve as crossing guards at “hot spots” on the highway (F Street). The Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees heard a report on the status of the crossing guard situation at the Aug. 10 regular meeting.
Superintendent Fred Rich relayed that Oakdale Police Department, which is responsible for the F Street crossing guards, does not have enough volunteers to man the crosswalk areas. OPD had to cut paid crossing guards from its budget earlier this year.
Trustee Mike Tozzi found it “unacceptable” that there are not enough people to be crossing guards.
“It’s just not enough,” Tozzi said.
OJUSD Director of Pupil Services Larry Mendonca said that in his meeting with OPD, it was stated that having crossing guards is not mandated and that a lot of other cities don’t provide crossing guards.
“I’m very concerned about any child that may be in harms way,” said trustee Rick W. Jones, adding that this is Oakdale and is not like other communities.
While safe routes have been established and there are crosswalks, there are not stoplights at all the “hot spots.” There are stoplights at F Street and Johnson, F Street and Maag, and F Street and Willowood. However, F Street at Lee and F Street at Mann only have blinking crosswalks.
OJUSD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Barbara Shook reported that letters and ConnectEd phone messages were delivered to parents to remind them to be extra vigilant around the school zones and to talk to their children about pedestrian safety.
Shook also noted that the elementary sites are serving breakfast to students and that students can walk to school earlier to get breakfast and avoid some of the morning traffic congestion.
“We are doing everything we can within our part,” said Shook.
The board instructed Superintendent Rich to set up a meeting with city staff.
In other business, Assistant Superintendent for Business Tim Hern gave the board an update on the state budget that was revised on July 24. These are the largest cuts since the Depression. He said that there will not be a suspension to Prop 98, which is a “moral” victory but not a financial victory. The state will eventually repay the schools, but no one is sure when. So far, $11.2 billion has been taken from the schools. He also spoke on several other points of the budget and how they affect the district.
Hern said that most of the state budget is “nothing more than accounting gimmicks.”
Tozzi asked if there are any discussions so as to not target the classroom. Rich replied that the state government does not have a solution. Hern added that when 82 percent of school budget expenses are people (i.e. payroll), then the way it gets dealt with is by eliminating people or by making pay cuts because there is only so much that can be done with the remaining 18 percent.
Also in other business, the board swore in the new student board member Michael Homer. He is a member of the Oakdale High School Academic Decathlon competing team. He plays guitar, piano, and is on the track and soccer teams. He was selected for the student board member position through a rigorous process of application and interviews.
The next regular meeting of the OJUSD Board of Trustees will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14 at Oakdale City Council Chambers, 277 No. Second.