Souza: Why Did School District Think We Would Pay?

By Steven Tavares

San Leandro Councilwoman Diana Souza was uncommonly agitated Tuesday night when discussing the council’s Hobson Choice between ponying up $35,000 for crossing guards or possibly putting young children at risk. At issue was the perception the school board was given the green light by the city to move forward with paying their half of the cost-sharing for the program.

“How did they think we had said this?” Souza asked. “We need to know why they thought that.”
The answer may come from the July 29 city council/school board liaison committee meeting where San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos made the offer to the school district members. “We can’t go in there and say we’re not funding this,”Santos told The Citizen afterwards, despite continued resistance from City Manager Stephen Hollister.

Tuesday night, Hollister told Souza he consulted with the city attorney and sent an email to the school district saying it would honor half of the first month of instruction as the first day of school quickly approached.

Through extensive budget revisions throughout the early part of this year, the contentious issue of school crossing guards inexplicably never enter the discussion. Amid numerous presentation of the proposed fiscal budget a few council members were in the dark as to whether funding for the guards was included.

At one finance committee meeting, Souza was overheard whispering to Santos whether the guards were a part of the budget presentation given by the interim finance director. It was not and the budget was unanimously approved without crossing guards.