The city has stationed crossing guards at its two new schools after failing to do so for two days and is looking to hire as many as 20-30 crossing guards, said municipal officials on Thursday morning.
School 16 and the Hani Awadallah School went without crossing guards during the first and second days of school. The city posted crossing guards at both schools on Wednesday afternoon after severe criticism from city leaders.
“Thank God. It’s about time,” said Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, on Thursday morning. “The situation has been stabilized.” He said he drove in the vicinity of both schools and saw crossing guards stationed at close-by intersection.
A police officer was manning the intersection outside of School 16 on Thursday morning while a crossing guard was crossing children en route to school on Bloomfield Avenue and Hazel Street.
The school district’s security director James Smith confirmed the city began providing crossing guards since yesterday afternoon.
Sayegh has criticized mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration for failing to provide crossing guards for both schools.
School district officials said the city told them it did not have enough money to provide crossing guards a week before schools opening.
“I’m disappointed the first two days there was insufficient coverage,” said Sayegh. He said he was encouraged to see the administration is advertising to hire additional crossing guards.
The councilman said he intends to encourage some neighborhood residents to apply. The city is short of the number of budgeted crossing guards, said the police chief earlier in the week.
The administration budgeted for 130 crossing guards, but has 112.
Torres has done much to increase the number of crossing guards. For example, the mayor added 29 crossing guards since 2015.
Police director Jerry Speziale earlier in the week said the city has had a tough time retaining crossing guards. He said the city hires, runs them through the required background check, provides uniforms, and some end up leaving without providing notice.
The city is looking for reliable individuals to join its cadre of crossing guards, said officials. Those interested are encouraged to apply.