He explained, however, that getting a guard means putting in place a crosswalk or markings alerting drivers to a pedestrian crossing.

Guthrie described the school board's actions as "so disappointing," and discussed meeting with an attorney; he said he expected to have legal paperwork filed by the end of this week.

Bane, who also attended Monday's Abingdon meeting, said he will have to find money in his budget to cover the hiring of three additional crossing guards "because it is a priority; the safety of the kids is a priority."

"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed [that] we don't have a major episode because of this," Guthrie said, citing fears of an accident or a kidnapping.

Earlier protests

About 60 people attended a meeting hosted by the Edgewood Community Council at the Southern Precinct last Wednesday, to give their views on the ongoing controversy over the school budget to Harford County Council and school board members, and Aaron Tomarchio, Harford County Executive David Craig's chief of staff.

Parents encouraged county government and school officials to come together and find solutions to the budget impasse, which led to the school board implementing the fees and consolidating bus routes, as well as cutting school staff and canceling funding for employee raises.

Craig has noted his office increased funding to the schools to help cover a greater share of school employee pension costs as the state requires counties to cover a larger portion of local employee pensions than prior years, but could not fully fund the local portion of the school board's request in the face of declining student enrollment and lower overall county revenue because of the economy.

The county council declined to transfer funds from other departments to assist the school system.

A $424.7 million budget, funded by state, local and federal revenues, was approved June 10 at $19.5 million less than the $444.2 million school officials projected they would need to cover higher pension and employee health and dental care costs, plus the employee salary increases, which were worth about $7 million.

School officials projected the bus route consolidations would save $890,000, and the fees would raise $550,000, a combined $1.4 million in savings and revenue.

"They're saving a minuscule $1.4 million by making these kids go through this," Guthrie said.

He said people looking to stop the new bus routes and fees must "come up with hard evidence to show the difficulty" they will cause families.

Parents and students have protested both measures, citing the impact of the $50 per-sport fee and $25 per-activity fee on tight family budgets, and the safety risks for children who must walk more than a mile to school along busy streets and past the homes of known sex offenders.