AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the third day of school, Austin Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz put on a safety vest and took on the job of a crossing guard.
“Before we cross we’re going to look left, right, left,” Dr. Cruz told students before holding up a stop sign and stepping into the crosswalk. “It’s just a great experience for me to see exactly what happens on a day to day basis as kids are coming and biking and walking to school.”
But at Maplewood Elementary School near I-35 and 38 1/2 Street, there have been no signs of crossing guards since school started.
“There’s a lot of congestion around here,” said parent Larry Sanchez. “Sometimes it gets out of hand.”
Last year, Sanchez said the campus had parents and sixth graders who volunteered as crossing guards.
There are currently 230 paid crossing guards at schools across Austin, but they’re not district employees. The city of Austin is in charge of staffing them, and deciding where to assign them. When requests come in, they send someone out to count the number of students crossing the street with and without adults.
The city’s Safe Route to School Coordinator, Herschell Esquell said they need to observe at least 20 students crossing the street alone to add paid crossing guards.
That explains why Maplewood Elementary must rely on volunteers. All of the students KXAN witnessed were walking with their parents.
Equell said they have set up a crossing guard training session for parents at Maplewood next week.
If anyone is interested in doing the same, contact your child’s school or Herschell Esquell at 512-974-9321.