State, city, county and school officials met Monday to discuss plans to fund crossing guards currently employed by Dallas County Schools after voters dissolved the transportation agency in a November referendum.
Even before it stops providing school buses at the end of the school year, Dallas County Schools says it can no longer pay the crossing guards it supplies in the city of Dallas after Jan. 31.
The law says cities must pay for crossing guards and the tentative deal is that Dallas would do so, at least for the rest of the school year.
State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) called a closed-door meeting at his office Monday. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, Dallas County Schools Interim Director Alan King, Dallas' city attorney and city manager and staff for those agencies discussed solutions to pay for school crossing guards.
"Basically, the City of Dallas is still in the process of determining, to the extent possible, the level of financial commitment that will be required of it by state law," Senator West said in a written statement. "Dallas County must decide if it will act to collect a fee that is being used by districts serving Houston and San Antonio schools to pay for crossing guards."
The county is considering imposing a $1.50 vehicle registration fee that's allowed in state law for crossing guards. That move would require final approval by several agencies.
State Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) was invited to the meeting, but he did not attend. Instead he issued a press release opposing the fee increase and proposing volunteer crossing guards in place of paid people.
"We had a productive meeting today with all parties at the table," said Rawlings. "We are working toward short- and long-term solutions that comply with our legal obligations and ensure the safety of our schoolchildren. Conversations are ongoing, so it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further."
On Monday, DCS moved forward with a plan to lay off 17 commissioned police officers, called school resource officers, at three school districts according to The Dallas Morning News.
Acting DCS CEO Alan King told the paper the state-appointed committee overseeing the shutdown of DCS does not have the legal authority to operate a police department for Duncanville, Carrollton-Farmers Branch and Teague. The last day on the job for those officers will be Jan. 31.