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School Crossing Guards Funding: Cerritos Meeting Between ABC and Council ‘Does Not Go Well’

 

OP/ED
BY BRIAN HEWS • June 11, 2020

It’s no secret that Cerritos Mayor Solanki and Mayor pro tem Chuong Vo want to cut the crossing guard expense from the Cerritos budget.

Cerritos residents know when the Council majority turns to Republican, the crossing guard debate will begin once again.

Did you notice during Cerritos City Council meetings when Hu, Pulido and Yokoyama were the majority, there was no chance that talk about cutting the crossing guards would get on the agenda? Squelched before it was printed.

Elections have consequences, and so do Brown Act violations appointments.

Solanki has always made his intentions clear. In his clear sign of disdain for the guards, Vo voted not to cut a deputy from the Cerritos Station, as presented by Captain Minh Dinh, while complaining about the crossing guard expense.

The deputy would not have affected the police presence in Cerritos and saved Cerritos $500,000, yet Vo voted no to cut the deputy and yes to attempt to cut the crossing guard expense.

Now they have another expense cutting ally in [the questionably] appointed City Councilman Bruce Barrows.

Under the State’s Education Code, ABC is under no obligation to pay for the crossing guards in Cerritos, which cost $466,000 annually.

Solanki, Vo – and now Barrows – know that, yet they insist on politically motivated meetings with the ABC, pandering to their base, trying to pressure ABC during a pandemic, while having zero negotiating leverage.

Talk about Trump tactics.

And they had yet another meeting this past Friday, wasting the time of Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu, President of the Board Olga Rios, and Board Member Ernie Nishi. Mayor Solanki and   Barrows attended.

Vo was originally scheduled to be at the meeting, but Barrows is now on the Council, and everyone in Cerritos knows what that means.

So Solanki and Barrows sat there trying to cut the expense, somehow keeping a straight face during the meeting because the elephant in the room is Cerritos’  huge reserves, over $107 million.

Dr. Olga Rios told Hews Media Group, “The meeting did not go well. I think that paying for crossing guards is absolutely the responsibility of the City. Cerritos should prioritize the safety of their most precious and vulnerable residents – children.  Paying for crossing guards demonstrates their willingness to actively participate in the partnership required to best serve students. I am proud that up to this point, they have.”

“Risking the safety of students should not be at the top of the list, or on the list at all, when evaluating budget cuts. How do you put a price on the safety of children?

“Cerritos should continue to support and ensure children get to school safely, so that we can take up the charge of educating them once they enter our schools. I am so disappointed that Cerritos is even considering cutting crossing guards.”

ABC Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu told HMG, “We recognize that our cities and school districts are experiencing major budget deficits in California this year. We also value the safety of our students and families in our schools. We hope that the City continues to maintain the crossing guard program to ensure the safety of our students and their families as they walk to school.”

Cerritos resident and activist Matthew Scammahorn asked, “Why would a program which keeps our kids safe, and is just 0.3% of the city’s entire budget, be one of the first programs on the chopping block?”

Scammahorn continued, “California state law currently holds that the city is ultimately responsible for keeping our kids safe outside of school grounds—thus, the city is responsible for any costs associated with lawsuits related to injuries or deaths of our kids walking to and from school. One lawsuit like this may cost the city much more than the cost of paying for our crossing guards.”

Scammahorn has started a petition on Change.org that residents can sign showing their support of Cerritos paying for the crossing guards.

HMG sent in requests for comment to Mayor Solanki, Vo, and Barrows without response.

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