Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pieces of Crossing Guard Puzzle Falling Together

Pottstown school crossing guard Cyndi Marnell
at her post at North Hanover and Beech streets

Now that council has another month to consider the privatizing of the school crossing guards, we've gleaned some more information about the particulars from Borough Manager Mark Flanders.

Perhaps most important (at least to the crossing guards) is this email which Flanders sent Wednesday in response to a query:.
"We have been assured that any current crossing guard by who wants to continue as a crossing guard will be hired by ACMS and that at a minimum, they will receive the same pay that they are receiving now."
According to the job description on the borough website, the current crossing guard salary is $19.38 per hour with “up to 1.75 hours per school day.”

In case you haven't been following the story, ACMS stands for All City Management Services, a California company.

At the Wednesday work session June 8, Flanders informed council that arrangements had been made to privatize the school crossing guards with that company -- pending council approval at Monday night's meeting.

In the wake of Mercury reporting on that upcoming vote, Councilman Dennis Arms said the guards were not aware of the move -- despite assurances to the contrary by Flanders and Police Chief Rick Drumheller --  and council tabled the matter for a month.

Questions remained and Flanders has now answered most of them.

In addition to the guards being guaranteed jobs and the same pay, the question of how the savings will be realized has also been answered.

Understand that although the borough hires and manages the crossing guards, it is the Pottstown School District which pays their salaries.

The 2016 budget lists the cost for crossing guard salaries at $154,559 and that is the money that the school district has been paying.

However, Flanders informed us that in the first quarter of the year, the Pottstown Police Department undertook an audit and realized there are other costs related to the guards that the district was not paying.
"The internal audit revealed that historically we have been billing the (school district) for salary only (the budgeted amount) and not billing for the real costs – salary plus FICA, Medicare, Workers Comp Insurance, equipment, administrative costs, the cost when an officer or parking enforcement officer fills in, etc. The total actual cost for the borough to provide crossing guard services for the 2015/2016 school year is estimated at approximately $270,000."
And that, as I had asked, is how a contract with ACMS that is not to exceed $247,000 saves $23,000 a year.

Its also interesting that the money saved will actually be the school district's, since otherwise the borough was going to increase the amount of money it charged for managing the guards, Flanders confirmed.

He also said that although it is true in most instances that when a guard calls in sick and has to be replaced by a police officer, it costs the borough no extra money as the officer is already on duty and being paid.

However, "in some instances, because we don’t have the available staff, we have to use officers on OT status," Flanders wrote.
So there you have it folks, that's as much as we know about the crossing guard situation.

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