Lawmaker works to resolve school crossing guard shortage
A shortage of crossing guards near schools has a state lawmaker wanting to take action.
State Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, tells Contact 5 that she wants to incentivize people using state dollars to become crossing guards.
"I dedicated my life to traffic safety," Slosberg said. "These crossing guards are vital to our community. They're vital for our students. They're vital for safety. I think this is something that the state should get involved in."
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is currently recruiting for more than 100 crossing guard positions, or about one-sixth of its force, which spans out over 83 schools.
Samantha Tillman and her son Zegan, a kindergartner at Lake Park Elementary School, rely on the crossing guards to navigate the afternoon rush.
"They're incredibly important," Tillman said. "The traffic through here sometimes gets a little crazy with parents trying to hurry up and pick up students."
To fill the gap, Contact 5 has learned the sheriff's office is utilizing law enforcement and community service aides and deputies assigned to the Police Athletic League program, which the sheriff's office said has no major impact on their current jobs.
A sheriff's office spokesperson denied WPTV's request for an on-camera interview to discuss the impact of the shortage.
However, the spokesperson issued a prepared statement to Contact 5.
"Although we have these vacancies, we stress that every school post in PBSO's jurisdiction is manned daily by a PBSO employee or from an outsourced company called Nextaff. NO CHILDREN'S Safety is at risk," the spokesperson wrote.
WPTV reported in June that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office was working to recruit crossing guards before school went back into session.
Also, WPTV reported in August that a school crossing guard shortage in Martin County has parents worried about their children's safety.
Right now, crossing guards in Palm Beach County earn anywhere from $14.41 to $16.89 per hour and receive benefits including access to the agency's wellness center and Florida's retirement system.
For more information on becoming a crossing guard, you can call the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office at 561-688-3805.
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