Council Briefing: Normal Privatizes School Crossing Guard Program, Approves CDBG Plan

 Normal will outsource its school crossing guard program at various Unit 5 schools beginning this upcoming school year. (Photo: Breanna Grow/AdaptBN)

Normal will outsource its school crossing guard program at various Unit 5 schools beginning this upcoming school year. (Photo: Breanna Grow/AdaptBN)

Starting this fall Normal will hand over the reins to a private company to manage its school crossing guard program.

Town Council members unanimously waived formal bidding to pay All City Management Services Inc. up to $82,872 to administer the program, which currently falls under the Normal Police Department’s responsibilities.

The agreement approved Monday night runs through the upcoming school year from August 16 - May 31, 2019.

The company plans to retrain guards currently employed by the Town.

Normal Chief of Police Rick Bleichner said the program has exacted both budgeted and “soft” costs on the department in recent years, including dispatching officers to fill around 350 hours vacancies.

“That’s over eight weeks worth of time that those officers could be doing other jobs,” he said.

The nature of the work, with one hour-long shift in the morning and another in the afternoon, lends itself to frequent vacancies, said Bleichner.

The agreement will also shift liability in workman’s compensation suits -- some of which can prove substantial with guards working year-round in all kinds of conditions -- from the department onto the management company, he said.

Bleichner noted the City of Bloomington has successfully used the same management company for its crossing guard program for over a year.

Community Development Block Grant

Council Member Chemberly Cummings said she was disappointed this year’s Community Development Block Grant action plan didn’t include more housing assistance for low-income families.

Cities use the federal grant program for a variety of services and infrastructure improvements to help low and moderate-income residents. The Council unanimously passed this year’s plan, with an additional $20,000 in entitlements from last year, on its consent agenda Monday night.

While the plan does include $24,000 toward the Town’s down payment assistance program for low- to moderate-income home buyers, “those who would typically qualify for low-income housing typically don’t have the credit score to even purchase a home,” Cummings said.

CDBG Program Administrator Taylor Long said the Town lays out priorities for the program on a 5-year basis, with individual years’ programs and funding levels approved annually. Normal is currently in year 4 of its consolidated plan, with the next 5 years’ planning preparations to begin soon.

“I look forward to seeing what we put in place and hopefully there will be something in there specifically reaching out to the low-income families,” said Cummings.

The $414,891 plan also includes $62,000 for youth education and family activities at the UNITY Community Center and PATH’s homeless outreach services; $224,000 for street resurfacing and sidewalk improvements; and $68,066 for sewer service improvements.

Go Further: Does Normal Have an Affordable Housing Problem?

Other Business

The Council also approved:

  • This year’s round of Harmon Arts Grant recipients, at just half the amount of last year’s funding;

  • Updated prevailing wage rates for Town employees;

  • A $66,863 contract with Champaign Signal and Lighting Company to upgrade traffic signals at the intersection of Beaufort Street and Vernon Avenue.