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School board hesitant to share costs for traffic light

ST. CHARLES – St. Charles School District 303 board members aren’t ready to share the costs of a traffic control device at St. Charles North High School – a safety measure some said they believe the city is responsible for.

The city of St. Charles is requesting the school district split the costs of the traffic control device in an amount not to exceed $250,000. Meeting as part of the Business Services Committee Tuesday, member Jim Gaffney asserted the city made the mistake of not installing the traffic light when it built Red Gate Bridge. The bridge opened in December and is just east of the school.

“I have a tough time giving them $250,000,” Gaffney said, adding the city goofed.

Member Nick Manheim agreed with Gaffney, pointing out the city purchased George’s Sporting Goods building with funds from other capital projects that came in below budget.

Superintendent Don Schlomann told the committee the intersection has never been safe, and he has lobbied for the light because he doesn’t want to put students’ safety at risk.

“I need to get some safety in there,” he said.

Member Kathy Hewell asked whether many accidents occur at that intersection.

Schlomann said he didn’t have statistics on hand, but there are accidents near the intersection every year. John Baird, assistant superintendent of operations, said they are typically rear-end collisions.

At the request of the committee, Schlomann agreed to go back to the city to further discuss the issue.

“See what you can do,” Gaffney said.

In other news, the committee also considered the purchase of 90 bus security cameras at a total net impact of $83,000. Some of the district’s buses are equipped with cameras, Baird said, noting they move as issues arise.

Surplus funds would go toward the purchase, Baird said. Gaffney and Hewell said the district doesn’t need to spend the surplus funds just because the money is available.

“I’d rather sit on the money,” Gaffney said, adding he would support buying fewer cameras.

“This isn’t a crisis issue for us,” Schlomann said.

Baird agreed to bring the topic back to committee next month.

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