A cost increase to provide crossing guards near area schools has district and sheriff's office officials again sitting down at the negotiating table.
According to this year's proposed memorandum of understanding between the two entities, the cost to provide crossing guards at 21 intersections along with three officers to direct traffic for this school year will cost the district $128,520 — an increase of $22,530 from last year.
Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said part of the cost increase involves adding two additional crossing guards. However, he said he and staff still question the cause of the total increase.
That is why he said negotiations are ongoing with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
"We need to figure out where that cost increase is coming from," Blavatt said.
He added that the matter — originally slated to be discussed during next week's school board meeting, might be pulled off the agenda.
The need for crossing guards became more of a focus for school board members last year after the board hesitantly agreed to end busing for those living within 2 miles of their zoned school.
That led to complaints from parents and others about the poor condition or lack of sidewalks near some schools, along with high-traffic areas where children need to walk — particularly when a 14-year-old Explorer K-8 student was struck in February by a van along Landover Boulevard.
But unlike the agreement for crossing guards, Blavatt said district staff has signed off on the arrangement for school resource officers in middle and high schools at a cost of $468,800.
That agreement includes the adding of a deputy at Winding Waters K-8 now that the school has middle school-age students attending.
As part of the SRO agreement, the district provides funding for deputies at the middle and K-8 schools while the sheriff's office doesn't charge for deputies at the high schools.
For Challenger K-8, which in the past didn't have a school resource officer, deputies are slated to switch off and to provide coverage four days a week at that school.