Editorials

O’Fallon crossing guards need not be cops

Crossing guards need not be city employees, O’Fallon city leaders decided. When this popular crossing guard was cut last year in Texas, donations returned him to his job.
Crossing guards need not be city employees, O’Fallon city leaders decided. When this popular crossing guard was cut last year in Texas, donations returned him to his job. Special to the Star-Telegram

The City of O’Fallon decided to end its school crossing guard program, a roughly $75,000 expenditure last year and $379,449 expense from 2006 through 2014. The problem is that scheduling crossing guards is an administrative pain and crossing guard duty sometimes takes police off the streets when guards are missing from one of the seven school crossings for O’Fallon Elementary District 90 and St. Clare Catholic School.

The crossing guard program was studied by the city’s police department last year and resulted in the recommendation to end it. Mayor Gary Graham said the schools are free to pick up the program, but it is not an efficient use of city resources.

The city’s high school district and other grade school district, Central District 104, do not use crossing guards.

Because it is an election year, Alderman Herb Roach, who is challenging Graham for mayor in 2017, frames the city’s move as ominous.

“If safety for children is not a priority, what is a priority?” Roach said.

The question is not about safety as much as about responsibility and efficiency.

Why should the city pay for some schools to have crossing guards but not others? Are paid guards the only solution?

The city is looking at adding lighted crossing signs. Also, schools can organize adults into paid or volunteer crossing guard units, or do as some schools do and designate responsible eighth graders to wear the safety vest and hoist the “stop” sign.

A city’s proper responsibilities, efficiency and student safety are not mutually exclusive.

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