Raleigh City Councilors are considering a budget allocation of $75,000 to fund crossing guards at 11 Wake County schools.
Members of the Law and Public Safety Committee Tuesday asked staff to include the increased funding as a note in the proposed budget, which will be presented May 20. The funding covers salary, uniforms and training for part-time crossing guards at 11 Wake County schools within Raleigh’s city limits.
The 11 schools have previously requested crossing guards from the police department, but didn’t meet the scoring threshold.
Neither the school district nor the Wake County Sheriff’s Office provides crossing guards at schools, but the school leaders are exploring the possibility of formally training teachers.
Raleigh Senior Transportation Engineer Jed Niffenegger said anecdotal evidence from school district staff shows that teachers are already acting as crossing guards though, legally, only crossing guards that have been trained by the Sheriff’s Office or police department can serve in this function.
“This has opened up a door for an issue that they need to deal with,” said Niffenegger, adding that the district is trying to find out how many schools use teachers as guards.
“I am a little bit concerned about the notion of having our teachers volunteer to do this,” said Councilor and committee member Wayne Maiorano. “I don’t know that’s the highest and best use of our teachers.”
Members of the committee disagrees about how much money should be allocated for crossing guards. Councilor John Odom said funding the 11 schools would open the door for requests from the remaining 27 schools to ask for crossing guards.
Odom suggested including an additional $180,000 so that the program would be fully funded.
“Let’s get the money there,” he said. “We don’t have to spend it.”
Schools, he said, would still have to go through the existing evaluation process to determine if one is needed.
Ultimately, Councilors agreed to fund crossing guards at the 11 schools and work with the school district on a funding plan for the additional 27.
The full Council will need to hold a final vote at its next regular meeting May 20, and the funding will need to be approved in the budget before the change occurs.
The Evaluation Process
In 2007, the City put a formal crossing guard evaluation process into place. Because the city doesn’t have the staff or the time to do studies at each of the schools, an evaluation is done only when someone requests it.
Staff scores a school on the following criteria:
- Traffic volumes
- Number of pedestrians vs. traffic volume
- Acceptable gaps per hour
- Pedestrian age
- Speed limit
- Sight distance
According to the system, schools that score 100 or higher should receive a crossing guard. There are 17 crossing guards at 16 schools. Brentwood Elementary School has two.
The only subjective number, said Niffenegger, is the 100-point threshold. The 11 schools that would be given a crossing guard did not meet the threshold.
Maiorano said policy should reflect the changes that would be made by funding the additional schools.