Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 23, 2010

Budget cuts threaten school crossing guards

Palo Alto safety leaders say loss would lead to more driving, less walking

by Chris Kenrick

The yellow-clad crossing guards who patrol Palo Alto's major intersections before and after school could lose their jobs under a budget-cutting proposal by Palo Alto City Manager Jim Keene.

Parents and PTA officials reacted with disbelief this week when they returned from spring break to learn of Keene's proposal, contained in an $11 million package of city-wide cuts and new fees.

"The initial reactions, of course, are dismay and surprise," said Penny Ellson, chair of the PTA Council's Traffic Safety Committee. "Are they serious?"

"Then we get down to, 'What should we do?'"

If enacted, the loss would undercut a decade's worth of progress in getting students out of cars and onto their feet, PTA volunteers said.

Until now, the city has covered the $345,000-a-year cost for 30 crossing guards at key intersections, including Middlefield and Embarcadero roads, El Camino Real and Arastradero Road.

The guards comprise a critical piece of the "Safe Routes to School Program," built over many years by parents in cooperation with the police and schools, parents said.

"The intersections are dangerous and without crossing guards many parents will resort to driving their kids again. We plan to ask the city to reconsider this cut," PTA Council President Terry Godfrey said Thursday.

School district officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ironically, news of the proposed crossing-guard cuts hit the school community during Earth Week, a traditional showcase for "Safe Routes to School" activities.

Events at every one of Palo Alto's 17 school campuses involved sustainability, including calls for more walking and bicycling to school.

The number of Palo Alto students who bicycle or walk to school has risen steadily in the past decade, according to PTA traffic-safety volunteers.

Following surveys and "bicycle counts" on campuses last fall, the PTA Council's Traffic Safety Committee reported that 54 percent of elementary students get to school by walking, bicycling or other alternative modes of transportation compared to far fewer a decade ago.

Gunn High School's bike count last fall was 633 (33 percent of students), up from 180 (11 percent) in 1999.

At Palo Alto High School, last fall's count was 582 (32 percent of students), up from 220 (15 percent) a decade ago.

Besides Earth Week's "Walk and Roll" days in which students were urged to make special efforts to get to school under human power, elementary families were encouraged to track their "green" progress under the Drive Less Challenge.

Green teams at some elementary schools were asking families to make "Drive Less pledges."

"Driving is the biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution," a Safe Routes to School flier stated. It went on to provide statistics parents who drive to Palo Alto schools generate two pounds of carbon dioxide each day and asks people to multiple those emissions times the number of students, school days and years of schooling.

"Individual choices that we make can add up to climate change."

Ellson, a Fairmeadow Elementary School parent, said she is working to get information on the proposed cuts out to parents so they can participate in the city's budget hearings.

"I don't envy our City Council. They are faced with some very difficult choices," Ellson said.

"However, as they weigh alternatives, I hope they'll place a high priority on public safety, especially the safety of school commuting children."

Other proposed cuts that could affect schoolchildren include reduction in the Palo Alto Shuttle Service and cuts to the police department's Traffic Team, motorcycle police officers who patrol school routes, Ellson said.

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be e-mailed at ckenrick@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2010 at 9:56 am

Probably the worst intersection involving students is the one at Town and Country that connects to Paly. Palo Alto police could fund the entire crossing guard budget by giving traffic citations to all those cars who let students out in the middle of Embarcadero and allowing students to cross without benefit of a crosswalk.

This has got to be the most poorly designed intersection in all of Palo Alto. Why they didn't combine the pedestrian crossing with the parking lot traffic signal is obtuse. Safer for all and it would help traffic flow immensely.


Posted by parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 23, 2010 at 10:29 am

Can the PTA provide some parent volunteers to replace the fired crossing guards? These jobs don't require a lot of hours or a lot of training.

And I agree with the other parent that posting traffic cops around schools could generate a lot of money in dangerous driving fines.

Also, how about charging a fee for school parking lots and using that money for pedestrian protection programs?


Posted by Wondering, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2010 at 10:37 am

Why should the City pay for school crossing guards? Seems to me the District ought to pay for this. The City gives the District plenty of support money each year ($9M)


Posted by students, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 23, 2010 at 11:09 am

Well back in my day we had students be the crossing guards, although back in our day 6th grade was a part of the elementary. I concur with last post, our city is in enough budget issues, they don't need the responsiblity of school crossing guards


Posted by Penny Ellson, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

PTA volunteers(like any citizens) legally cannot direct traffic on public streets. We are required to leave this job to city-hired professionals who are trained and insured for liability. Do we really want parent volunteers directing traffic at Stanford/El Camino intersection, for instance?

Further, the PTA insurance policy specifically precludes directing traffic even on campuses. It says, "Crossing Guards/Directing Traffic/Student Safety Patrols" is "not allowed" and therefore are not covered. It says these " activities and events are prohibited. Individual PTA officers may be held personally liable for conducting any of the events listed below. All PTAs should be aware that violation of established CaliforniaState PTA policies, including the sponsoring of prohibited activities, can result in withdrawal of the PTA's charter."

That is why PTA volunteers can't do it.

Some sites have safety patrols who control children entering an intersection before they get to a street. However, the sites where this is done are limited by various conditions too complicated to explain here.

The intersections with adult crossing guards have been carefully studied and have met specific criteria to warrant a guard. Here are just a few examples of adult guarded intersections, in addition to aforementioned Stanford/El Camino:

El Camino/Arastradero
El Camino/Maybell
Arastradero/Donald
Arastradero/Coulombe
Alma/Charleston
Embacadero/Middlefield
Embarcadero/Newell

This is NOT a job for parent volunteers. During morning peak hours, young school commuters are on the road at the same time as the high volume work commuters. Trained and paid police and adult guards (who can be relied on to be there EVERY day) need to manage this kind of enforcement. The city, school district, and PTA have a long-standing Safe Routes to School partnership that has been very successful increasing the numbers of students who walk and bike to school over the last ten years.

As for sending police out to raise revenue by ticketing...Another proposed cut, which has not gotten much attention is the proposed elimination of the ENTIRE five-man PAPD Traffic Team. Having a dedicated traffic team is an enormous benefit to traffic safety. The traffic team uses motorcycles which are smaller and more maneuverable than patrol cars. This allows the officers more flexibility in taking up observation positions in school zones and allows them to quickly respond to violators traveling in either direction on the streets. Members of the traffic team are specifically dedicated to enforcing traffic laws (read: safe commuter behavior). Having the traffic team place a priority on school zones during the hectic morning commute has been vital to the success of our Safe Routes to School programs. Close communication between the district, CPA Transportation, and PTA with the Traffic Safety Team help to prioritize trouble spots. Without this dedication and commitment from the traffic team the road environment around our schools would be very different.

In addition to visible presence and strong enforcement on school routes, the traffic team participates in the 3rd grade bike safety education programs, represents PAPD on the City/School Traffic Safety Committee, fills in for occasional missing crossing guards, and assists school traffic safety in numerous small but important ways. In addition, having a trained police officer manage the crossing guards insures the most professional and expeditious implementation of this important element of CPA's enforcement effort.

The members of the traffic team are well-known by school administrators and PTA Traffic Safety Representatives and receive thanks on a regular basis for their outstanding work keeping PAUSD school commuting children safe. It is hard to imagine having this same close working relationship and sense of partnership without a dedicated traffic team.

We understand that the City, like most in California, is facing difficult budget decisions but we urge Council to preserve a program that has made Palo Alto the envy of surrounding communities and has been crucial to the safety of thousands of Palo Alto children every school day.

Further, the documented success of Palo Alto's Safe Routes to School programs of increasing the percentage of children walking and biking to school saves our city money. Successful trip reduction programs save engineering and construction dollars that might otherwise have to be spent on increasing street capacity. They also reduce costs related to crashes by enforcing safe behavior on our vitally important school commute routes. Cutting the PAPD Traffic Safety Team may be a false economy.

The PTA Traffic Safety Committee values our partnership with PAPD, and it is clear to us that these job responsibilities cannot be distributed to other staff members or volunteers (however capable they may be). Before any change is made we would like to understand what shape the PAPD's future role in the Safe Routes to School Partnership will take with special emphasis on how the eliminated functions will be managed. We ask Council to give appropriate heightened review to a budget decision that very likely will have important effect on the safety of school-bound children in our community. Please define what alternate plan is in place to make Safe Routes to School enforcement efforts work before significant cuts are made.

If the Traffic Team were eliminated, their responsibilities would be redistributed to regular patrol teams whose primary job is to respond to all calls, prioritizing 911 emergency assignments. This will make patrolling school commute routes a much lower priority. Further, it will assign officers to sites without regard for their familiarity with the specific dynamics of school commute issues related to that site.

This team focuses on maintaining a regular enforcement presence on school commute routes during school commute times. They make a difference in both the real and perceived safety of school routes, and we know that safety is a key factor that determines whether or not families walk and bike to school.

We hope the city will place a high priority on public safety, particularly the safety of school-bound children in their deliberations.

Penny Ellson
2009-10 Chair, Palo Alto Council of PTAs Traffic Safety Committee




Posted by Christine Leffler, a resident of Ohlone School
on Apr 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I don't know the details but this is ironic to read today as there
was just a school child vs. car accident this morning at Louis and Oregon Expressway. We need more crossing guards, not less.

I have witnessed crossing guards taking amazing steps to keep kids safe, especially at Newell and Embarcadero.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Over the past year we've seen city staff add a deputy city manager ($170,000 salary), an assistant city manager ($190,000 salary) and assistant to the city manager for environment ($110,000 salary). Add in 50% overhead in benefits, and there enough to pay for the school crossing guards twice.


Posted by Morris, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm

> Seems to me the District ought to pay for this. The City gives
> the District plenty of support money each year ($9M)

When you throw in the parcel tax money, it comes to almost $20M a year!

All governments are very good at hiding their sources of revenue, and not all that good (or honest) about revealing the total costs of the services they provide.


Posted by parent, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 23, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Kids' safety are the #1 priority. The crossing guards are doing great job to keep the kids safe from the heavy traffic on the road. Like common sense said, how much does the city pay for the top staffs compare with the crossing guards.


Posted by Worried Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm

The PAPD Traffic Team is important, too. Guards only staff some (not all) super busy intersections. The PAPD Traffic Team moves around town and deals with the speeders, and people who drive in bike lanes, and make illegal u-turns on school routes, etc....They ticket the scofflaws who prioritize their personal convenience and speedy transport over everyone else's safety. We need the Traffic Team to enforce the law.

We need the Traffic Team, too! The issue is street safety for everyone, especially kids going to school.

Safety should be the city's top priority.


Posted by Katie, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 23, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Will PiE have to bail us out again?

One of the best crossing guards I know is in front of Jordan at the North CA and Newell Road intersection. She really cares about the students and will prioritize them over allowing too many cars to pass through. She is aggressive with stepping out in front of cars to allow students an expedient passage to school. We can't lose her.

However, the many guards I've seen at the Louis Rd./North CA intersection are usually so timid and make the students wait so long that their presence is virtually worthless.

The Duveneck crossing guard is fantastic also.


Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm

So in regards to Penny's arguement, than why are there volunteers for the railroad crossing. That seems to be okay. What about putting parents back in charge of their children and they can walk them to school and make sure they cross the street safely. I think we are faced with major budget cuts in both our school district and city. Other districts are faced with no school clerks or raising the student ration to 40. So lets take this into consideration, most people in other districts don't have crossing guards. Come on wake up!!!


Posted by Oh, Please, a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

@parent: You wake up! Have you seen the massive amounts of middle/high school stuents who bike or walk to school? You expect them to walk with their parents to school? And have you seen how crazy the rushed drivers are in the mornings? Most other districts don't have enough students walking or biking to school so crossing guards cannot be justified.

Re the traffic police, they aren't at schools enough to enforce anything. Once in awhile they will catch someone, but one time in front of Duveneck, a policeman was in his car viewing his computer and a car made a U-turn right behind him (no U-turn signs posted). I told him and he claimed he didn't see it.

We really need the shuttles. They transport many students to Paly and Jordan each morning.

If Palo Alto is such a green city, they cannot eliminate crossing guards and the shuttle. Traffic will increase if they do.


Posted by Charlie, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Perhaps it is a mistake made by the city to eliminate the hard working guards. They deserve for getting a big raise instead! The solution is quite simple. Let's cut the city management pay by 20% across the board for their poor judgement of using (missing) the city money.
This city has a major hosipital and university in the backyard. We also have many tour buses passing through each day. Public safty should be higher than anything else in the city pirority list. Non-negotiable item!


Posted by Your Neighbor, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm

It seems to me that there area plenty of volunteers to sit for hours and monitor the trains. One would think that if they have enough time to sit and watch trains roar by for hours at a time, then why couldn't they monitor the streets for a few hours a day. A kid is more likely to get hit by a car than a train. Just a thought though.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

My fellow Parks and Recreation Commissioners and I had a special meeting about the 2011 City budget. There are no easy choices.

Several of us are old enough to remember the "crossing guard" position being a position of honor amongst the students at the school. It is time to revisit that idea.

No one wants to compromise the safety of the kids as they get to school. The way the current crossing safety program works needs to change and there are many ways it can happen, including the example I cite above from my halcyon days.

This might be something that needs to be handled at the PTA and Site Council level, with some policy guidance from the School District and the City.


Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm

@ Penny, I do have children in the community and they did ride their bike to middle school. I expected them to learn how to cross a street by the time they were going to middle school and for sure by H.S. You need to get real, we live in this little bubble we call Palo Alto.
Many kids don't live close enough as you said as Palo Alto but they have to take public transportation and then get off and walk. Please we live in this bubble, get out of it. Wake up there are huge deficits every where.


Posted by Walking, biking mom, a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

It is wonderful that nearly half of Palo Alto's elementary school children walk and bike to school every day. Even more do it when they become more independent in secondary school. These kids are getting great exercise, they start their day ready to learn, they learn traffic safety skills, and they reduce auto congestion. Our children take thousands of car trips off the road EVERY school day during morning peak hour by choosing to walk and bike.

The rest of us benefit from their healthy choices. Less noise, congestion, less auto crash related risk on our community streets. We should be supporting these children. They are building a walking, biking culture that benefits us all...and the rest of us could learn from them by making similar choices more often.

I hope the city will keep the crossing guards and the PAPD Traffic Team! Support a community that is safe for humans on the street. Prioritize public safety...to save money that might otherwise be spent building wider roads for increased traffic. Is that really what we want?


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

We can't afford crossing guards and traffic safety officers but we can afford to fund the Children's Theater? A zoo? 5 libraries? Public art?

We have great volunteers in our community, but instead of asking them to direct traffic, what if the contribute the art, volunteer as one of the myriad consultants we spend money on, etc.

Keeping our kids (and others) safe should be our first priority as a City.

And I love the idea of tickets in front of many of our schools - from the kids dropped off in the middle of Embarcadero in front of Paly, to the parents that drive the wrong way in front of a school and make u-turns in the middle of students.


Posted by Morris, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm

> Several of us are old enough to remember the "crossing guard"
> position being a position of honor amongst the students at the
> school. It is time to revisit that idea.

Yes, it is time to revisit this idea. Keep in mind that 15 year olds are given "learners licences" to drive, and 16 year olds are given drivers licences, so society seems to believe that they are old enough to make life-and-death decisions involving traffic. There is no way to say these kids should be able to drive, but not be traffic guards at signalized intersections here in Palo Alto.

As to traffic guards being "trained professionals" .. that's a laugh. Some of these people are immigrants than can barely speak English.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 23, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Morris,

It's not that the older students can't handle crossing a road. The issue is the runaway cars in the rushed hours. If it weren't for the crossing guards, many of the students would be waiting forever to cross, even in a crosswalk because drivers are so rushed that they would rather cross and make a bicyclist/pedestrian wait. I have seen this happen consistently at the crosswalk in front of Stratford with no guard (and kids have been hit by cars). Even though students are waiting to cross, cars barrel through the crosswalk (whether it's because they see them and they don't want to wait or they don't see them because a crossing guard is not in front of their car). Police can issue citations for cars who pass through when a person is waiting to cross in a crosswalk. Another example is a crosswalk on University near House of Bagels. I and others have nearly gotten hit in that crosswalk because cars don't notice the crosswalk because there are no lights flashing on the pavement (per Fabian Road).

If anything, at least keep the crossing guards in the mornings. The afternoons are not as much of an issue.


Posted by Morris, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2010 at 5:26 pm

> to eliminate the hard working guards

The guards are generally assigned at signalized intersections. They push a button to force a red light, and walk into the crosswalk and hold up a "stop sign" They wave pedestrians across. Once the pedestrians have crossed, they retreat to the sidewalk, where they wait for more pedestrians to arrive.

Their daily work assignment is about 90 minutes, or so, in the morning and afternoon.


Posted by Morris, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2010 at 5:43 pm

> It's not that the older students can't handle crossing a road.

Good .. then there is no reason that some sort of "community service" program be instituted using PAUSD seniors to do this job, in those intersections where it needs to be done.

There is also no reason that video surveillance cameras can not be used to obtain the license numbers of cars (generally parents of PAUSD students) who are making it difficult for students to cross, or are breaking the law by making illegal u-turns at/near schools.

Being "rushed" is no excuse, particularly starting a little earlier always solves that problem.

The taxpayer always seems to be the way out of other people's problems in this town. Time to say NO to special interest groups--be they "worried parents" or "rushed motorists".


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Morris - High school seniors can't be crossing guards, Paly kids are in class from 7:50 til 3:05. Most of the intersections are stop signs - nowhere to put a surveillance camera. And a camera can't stop a car.

I agree that being rushed is no excuse and the worst offenders are the parents (the teenage drivers are infinitely more careful in the morning).


Posted by Priorities?, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Maybe the district should fund the crossing guards instead of spending $185,000 subsidizing small class sizes for SI.


Posted by Cal, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm

at least we know where the city manager stands on student safety. over $1,000,000 in salary and benefits for a small number of those employed in the city managers office. makes one wonder where our priorities are?


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Morris is absolutely wrong about the crossing guards. Many of them are at unsignalized intersections where their presence in the middle of the intersection with the STOP paddle held high is the only way to get drivers to come to a complete stop and allow peds to cross safely. This is actually a difficult job that is not for the faint of heart. It requires (by law) specialized training, a thick skin and a lot of assertiveness. It also requires someone who will be there regardless of weather. If you try to fill this position with volunteers or high school students you will find that after a couple of weeks they stop showing up. As far as using cameras: who would look at the recordings and what would they do based on the results? You would need to pay someone for a godawful boring job of watching them, and they couldn't legally do anything no matter what they saw! It is far better to have a real human on site to prevent problems than to imagine that someone will be able to go back later and punish the guilty after a child gets run over.


Posted by me, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2010 at 8:35 pm

"We can't afford crossing guards and traffic safety officers but we can afford to fund the Children's Theater? A zoo? 5 libraries? Public art?"

I second that emotion. There is a long of luxury items we can't see to live without (or just make them raise private funds) that seem to come ahead of things that EVERY community should have. We spend over $1 million on Children's Theater folks - more per capita by far than any town in the land! - but we are cutting the crossing guard budget?

This "let them eat cake" approach comes from somewhere - but it is obsolete and just wrong. Time to slay the sacred cows, rethink our budget, and get our priorities straight.


Posted by An old parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 23, 2010 at 9:17 pm

The crossing guard system that we have today was mostly a result of Dave Scheiman's actions. Over ten years ago students were getting hit by cars at JLS and nothing was being done. There was a traffic safety committee and it was still two years from submitting a plan, there planned schedule was for resolution was two years away , and they were using data that was five to seven years old. Dave brought his own cones and started directing traffic at the unloading zone. Soon I was helping him. A parent from Hoover wrote an artical in the Sunday Mercury News about Dave and that brought action. The city and the district had egg on their faces. The four way walk at JLS was put in and the "No right turn while children are present" signs that north Palo Alto had were installed in South Palo Alto. The city proposed to install crossing guards at six intersections. At this point I stated that nobody will use them since each year we had them at the start of school and a week later they would be removed from lack of use. I got the city to agree to a six month test period so that people would try them. After six months the city left five and started to put them in more places in the city. So thank Dave for the current crossing gaurds.


Posted by Safety 1st, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2010 at 11:11 pm



SIMPLE - take money from what goes to Children's Theatre, and put it to SAFETY, I've heard millions, millions? go to Children's theatre? or fire a few people that make too much money, and hire somebody else for less money, or cut redundant jobs,whatever you do, DON"T mess with school crossing guards



Posted by safety 1st, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2010 at 11:21 pm



Actually,

how does a million dollars get spent on Children's theatre?

child actors don't get paid,

how many kids are even in a play? 50?, how many productions?

how different is it from a sports program?

this is enough money to feed small countries, one million every year?!




Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2010 at 12:21 am

It isn't just about getting kids to cross safely, it is also about traffic flow. At some of the intersections without lights, there would be a steady flow of kids crossing at one of the 4 crossing for minutes at a time and traffic can't move. A traffic guard ensures that there are wait times for the cars but also that they can move through the intersection also.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2010 at 12:25 am

How about putting a small charge on the shuttle to pay for crossing guards? Even 50c per ride would help to raise some money. It is surprising that Palo Alto is still providing free transportation to school for some children while others have a 5 mile commute with no help from the city.


Posted by Grandma, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 24, 2010 at 8:15 am

When my kids were in school 20 years ago the PAUSD paid for crossing guards. School District budget cuts ended this, so to help the School District out the City began paying for the crossing guards.

Now the City has severe budget problems so perhaps it's time the School District took back their responsibility for paying for crossing guards.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2010 at 9:59 am

School crossing guards in the morning are clearly needed.
The school district should manage/pay for this.
This district has a massive budget that can afford it.
Meanwhile, I agree the City of Palo Alto needs to get serious about budget reductions, and this includes dropping the 1M per year gift to Palo Alto Children's Theatre. Ridiculous! Other nonprofits and charities stand on their own feet, I am sure the parents of Children's Theatre kids can do so, also.


Posted by Max Nielepko, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Well, just ask Jack Morton to have the librarians fill the crossing guard positions since there are five of them, maybe they could all take one day of the week since their positions are obviously more important than crossing guards...


Posted by Joe, a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 24, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Maybe we could ask ex-council member Morton to do crossing guard duty. He gets a FULL medical ride for life, for being a two term council member.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 24, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Can't they use a little of that 9 million dollars we give the school district each year for crossing guard duty?


Posted by Kid Safty, a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Crossing guards are the only few groups who do something useful. Leave them stand in rain or shine.

Kids are our future. We need them to pay down our national debt! We need all crossing guards.


Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm

In the mid-eighties or early nineties Palo Alto had about 55,000 people who slept here and about 160,000 people working, shopping, and living in town on most days. I can only imagine that those numbers have grown.

It is that influx of ca. 100,000 out-of-towners, many of them arriving in the morning for the work day, who are managed by the Crossing Guards. Some of them are surley, tired, late for work, unfed, consumed by text-message-deprivation as they try to get to work. And 25 (Embarcadero) or 35 mph seems completely unreasonable to them as they drive. Many of the Palo Altans headed out of town to their jobs are in the same state.

Our kids need all the help they can get to learn to share the roads and crosswalks with such traffic. Please find a way to keep the Crossing Guards


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2010 at 6:39 pm


there are many retired people who would volunteer as crossing guards, also the PAFD, PAPD seems not very busy at all, librarians do not start work till after school put them to work. Also many parents do not work or work part time in PA-- there is no need for paid crossing guards, the work can be be done by volunteers and under employed city employees for no cost.


Posted by Pa parent, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 25, 2010 at 7:14 pm

How about this (and I am serious.). Put up cameras to catch red light runners on Oregon and Embarcardero and Middlefield and use the fines to pay crossing guards?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 25, 2010 at 8:13 pm

@Pa parent: That is a fabulous idea! Every day I witness red light runners at Embarcadero/Louis, Embarcadero/Greer, OrEx/Louis. And I mean red light runners, where they are clearly crossing the line when the light is already red. Then when the drivers argue the tickets, the city can claim it's for revenue for crossing guards, not for the city (sounds more PC).


Posted by toogoodtobetrue, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2010 at 9:52 pm

For the city workers, it's an honest way to get overtime pay.
For the retiree and the unemployed, it's a way to earn a cup or two coffee at the local shop.
For the business, they have a few more customers stick around all day.
For the city, it collects more sale taxes.
If anyone argues the tickets, tell them to support the Palo Alto retiree and unemployed foundation..
Fantasic!


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I heard that last week after school was over, a girl who was riding her bike and was hit by a car. The person who told me is a school bus driver. She said it was ugly. It is ridiculous that they planned to have no crossing guards. There will be more children hit by cars if they do that.


Posted by alex, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 16, 2010 at 10:29 am

Driving is a privilege not a right. If kids have to pay for taking the bus (roughly $200/year with a bus pass), so why are schools providing free parking for teens that drive to school? If a kid is lucky enough to afford a car, they should also take responsibility for parking it. $200/year for a student parking permit would go far toward offsetting the cost of the guard program.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm

We need crossing guards to keep the traffic moving.

I was stopped at an intersection recently (not in Palo Alto) and had to wait for a steady flow of pedestrians to cross which held the traffic in both directions, including traffic trying to come out of the facility where the pedestrians were exiting. I didn't time the wait, but it was easily a couple of minutes as each car had to wait for a break in the pedestrian flow. A crossing guard would prevent this as they make pedestrians wait and let the traffic move also.

I don't care who funds the crossing guards as long as they are there. Perhaps we will end up having bake sales to pay for them!!


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 17, 2010 at 9:06 am

I suspect the City realizes that we will not let the crossing guards disappear and expects PAUSD will pay for them.

Alex - Both high schools charge for parking passes, they are not free.


Posted by A student, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jun 3, 2010 at 5:40 pm

As a student who bikes to school everyday I know we need the crossing guards to keep us safe. The crossing in front at East Meadow and Middlefield is very busy and there would be problems with that intersection if we did not have a crossing guard there. The city needs to figure out the budget cuts on their own but they cannot take away crossing guards from busy intersections without potential harm to students.


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