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COUNTYWIDE FOCUS : OXNARD : Funding Spared for Crossing Guards

December 19, 1993|JEFF McDONALD

The Oxnard City Council refused to squelch funding for school crossing guards after scores of parents packed the council chambers and demanded that the city protect their children.

Oxnard Police Chief Harold Hurtt had requested that the city pare the number of intersections patrolled by crossing guards from 26 to nine in order to save almost $170,000 each year.

But at its meeting last week, the council bowed to pressure from more than 15 speakers, each of whom demanded that the city look elsewhere to save the money. "You're stepping over dollars to save nickels," said parent Charli Coats. The savings "is chump change compared to what it would cost the first time some kids get nailed" and the city is named in a lawsuit, she said.

Hurtt said he has spent months trying to work with officials from the Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Rio school districts to establish a cost-sharing program to maintain the crossing guards. But administrators "did not show any interest," the police chief said.

Even so, council members refused to cut the program. Instead, they ordered staff to keep working with school officials to hammer out a compromise.

"We have the same concerns you have," Mayor Manuel Lopez told the audience. "The issue isn't whether we're going to have guards or not. The issue is who's going to pay for it."

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