We just received a call from Lieutenant Ron Watson, PAPD who called to inform us about a change that is being considered to the city’s crossing guard service.
Adult Crossing Guards in Palo Alto are provided through an outsourced service that is funded through the police department budget. The City of Palo Alto has been working with our present crossing guard service provider for about 12 years. The contract with this company periodically has come up for review. When this occurs, the police department is required (city policy) to solicit bids. In past years, the present service provider was the only company that came forth with a bid. As a result, the relationship has been maintained without interruption.
This year, however, when the contract came up for renewal, the city received multiple bids. Our current provider offered the fifth lowest bid. The lowest bidder has substantial experience in this area. Currently, they provide crossing guard service in four other nearby communities: Cupertino, Walnut Creek, Concord, and Davis. Each of these cities gave the service good reports when inquiries were made by PAPD about the quality of service delivered.
Given that the lowest bidder has good experience and references, city policy may require PAPD to recommend that this company be hired. However, a final decision will be made by City Council.
We asked about the transition plan. Of course, our primary concern is that PAUSD students are provided with safe crossings through this transition and for the long term. PAPD is concerned about this too. The new crossing guard company has said they will try to hire as many of the existing guards as they can, though they are offering a lower rate of pay, so it is possible that some will not continue. It is impossible to know how many current guards may opt to stay on with the new company. A seamless and safe transition would be helped by fewer, rather than more, guards leaving their current posts—but this cannot be guaranteed. Training will be necessary for some locations. Transitions of this kind have been made by the new company previously and the PAPD is learning more about how that will be done.
We expect this item will hit the papers in short order as the present guards are understandably upset that their current jobs may be lost—and even if they stay on, they can expect a pay reduction.
We hope we all understand that this is a big change for the PAPD as well as us. They have a long-term, good working relationship with our present service provider and they have invested a lot over many years in training that company and its employees on the unique dynamics of our critical intersections. If it is decided that we must change contractors, this will be a challenging transition for PAPD. Let’s trust that they will continue to do their very best job to protect the safety of our school commuting children, and they will do their level best to make this transition as seamless as possible.