Kayser, FixLA campaign for funds for more crossing guards
Yana Gracile | August 14, 2014
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As the new school year gets underway, so does a campaign to increase student safety at LA Unified elementary schools.
District officials, including board member Bennett Kayser, and members of the FixLA coalition gathered at City Hall this week to express their concern over a shortage of crossing guards at more than 100 LA Unified and charter elementary school intersections, a vacuum they say that puts students and their parents at risk of injury, even death.
They called on city leaders to restore the number of crossing guards at schools.
“It’s about the safety of our children,” said Scott Mann, a spokesperson for FixLA.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation is responsible for supplying crossing guards to elementary schools within LAUSD.
A department traffic study in March showed that 507 intersections near 307 elementary schools qualified for crossing guards.
Yet, just a third, or 179, of those elementary school intersections that LADOT had identified as dangerous due to heavy traffic remain unguarded, according to a FixLA study.
The FIxLA report also showed that the city has seen a near 40 percent reduction in crossing guard staffing since the recession of 2008, when there were 576 crossing guards.
According to LADOT, the city has only 331 crossing guards currently assigned at intersections, which FixLA says represents a 10-year low. LADOT blamed the shortage on “limited resources.”
LADOT is currently working with the mayor’s office to get approval to add up to 410 crossing guards.
Kayser, who has been a long time advocate of making sure students have safe routes to school and is a supporter of free public transportation to school, said the lack of crossing guards is a K-12 problem because in addition to walking, many older students also use bikes, skateboards and scooters to get to school and also need a guard to help them cross safely.
“As a former health education teacher, I am all for our students walking and biking to school but safety comes first,” Kayser said. “I salute the crossing guards who now serve our children and hope to see many more out there soon.”
Fix LA, an organization made up community groups, faith-based organizations and others who work together to restore vital city programs, say school children between the ages of 5-17 account for 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities and severe injuries in the city.
“I’ve been a crossing guard for 28 years,” said Doris Weston. “It’s a great honor to serve our children and their families. As a coalition of community leaders, crossing guards and other city workers, we stand united to make sure kids across this city receive the protection they deserve.”