DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The future of the Dallas school crossing guard program will be up for debate at Wednesday’s Dallas City council briefing. The city last month sued Dallas County Schools, who has run the program since 2012, after it announced plans to end the service at the end of January.
A committee is currently working to dissolve DCS following a vote last year to shut it down, but the city’s lawsuit aims to force crossing guard service to continue through the end of the school year. “Obviously DCS is a failed entity, so this is just part of the pieces falling apart,” said city council member Lee Kleinman.
Kleinman was one of several city council members who said that they support the city’s effort. “If we get to a point where there are not crossing guards, obviously those intersectiosn will be a lot more dangerous than they are right now,” he stated, asking drivers to be especially cautious.
The city also wants DCS to return money collected from Dallas specifically for the school crossing guard program. Its lawsuit asks for a judge to prevent the agency from “spending it or transferring city derived funds for any other purpose.” City council members said that they have questions about that money and the relationship between the city and DCS.
“Were we doing the appropriate checking that we should have been doing? Likely, we weren’t,” said Kleinman.
According to a memo released by the city manager’s office on Tuesday, the city collects about $600,000 a year in fees that it transfers to DCS. The agency, meanwhile, has spent an estimated $4.2 million a year to run the crossing guard program. That is almost twice what it cost in 2011, when the city last managed it.
“There’s, again, this whole questionable bookkeeping at DCS,” said Kleinman.
The city manager’s office said that, under state law, it is the city’s responsibility — not the school district’s — to provide school crossing guards. Officials are expected to brief the city council Wednesday on a plan to possibly partner with the county, state, Dallas Independent School District and others to create a crossing guard program for next year.