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


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.

  • Derek Nguyen says:

    Chuong is showing his loyalties. It was not a matter of economics, it was a vote of political allegiance. Shame on you Chuong.

    Tell me you can’t picture Solanki shouting “Dance puppet, dance!” at him. What a joke.

    School board probably will not budge. First lawsuit payout will be straight from city coffers.

    Don’t know the other school members very well but am wondering why our Cerritos representatives are so quiet about crossing, Black Lives Matter, and budget cuts.

    Maybe Solanki has them dancing to his tune too…

  • Open Letter to Cerritos Council says:

    Cerritos City Council:

    Dont think city should be employer for school crossing guards, as the city can not employee full time with perks. A School district has better chance of employing crossing guards full time w/ ful benefits so the guards know something about students etc.

    Rite now, Cerritos crossing guards know nothing about public safety or students. Cerritos guards do not stay very long, most leave Cerritos to be employed in Long Beach /Anaheim or other cities, to get FT employment and FT perks.

    Cerritos crossing guards receive sh..i..t, yet the top Mgrs of Cerritos Guard made $150K yr and full perks but the guards nothing. No one had any love for Dr. Greg Berg, who was director of the C crossing guards, he made $200K + full perks, where his employees who worked the streets, made ZERO!!!

    Students must have full term summer vacation, to be in alignment with the state and other states summer vacations.

    BB Bond is really injuring new families from coming in to Cerritos. Read housing report, we have only 3 persons living in a house, which is below norm throughout the state. Families do not want to live here, with the enormous BB Bond Mello Roos Taxes. City staff said we have 15,000 homes, only 50,000 residents, averages 3 residents per household, over 30% of the housing stock is 4-5 bedrooms.

  • […] Vo voted to cut the City’s crossing guard expense from the budget endangering kids who walk to school; […]

  • […] Vo voted to cut the City’s crossing guard expense from the budget endangering kids who walk to school; […]