Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2000

Crossing guard issue takes some cooperation


September 28, 2000

While the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly, the wheels on the cars traveling DeSoto's streets do not.

The combination of speeding vehicles and more children walking to school the result of DeSoto's new busing regulations has created the need for crossing guards as a means of keeping our children safe.

Of course, because the wheels of bureaucracy turn so slowly, officials are now trying to figure out whose responsibility it is to provide such a service. The school district has been advised by the Kansas Association of School Boards to pass off the responsibility of providing a crossing guard to the city.

The rationale holds water. It seems a crossing guard hired by the school district will have no authority to regulate traffic off school grounds.

The use of district employees or parent volunteers would put the school district in legal liability, according to transportation director Jack Deyoe.

Other cities nationwide face this issue and the solution is simple enough. The hiring of crossing guards is done through the police departments. Technically, these crossing guards are employees of the city, but the cost of employing them is a joint venture between the city and school district.

There is no reason a similar working arrangement couldn't work here. All it would take is a spirit of cooperation between the city council and members of the school board. There have been other issues where this spirit of cooperation has been lost amid petty squabbles and out-of-control egos, but this is an instance where doing the right thing accomplishes one simple goal: Keeping our children more safe.

The school district should have been able to predict last spring that crossing guards were going to be necessary when it announced the district would not provide bus service to students living within 2 1/2 miles of their respective schools.

Perhaps it would have been wise of the school district administrators to begin discussion with the city at that time. They could have taken the time the issue required to come to a solution at a time when every day didn't bring with it the chance of harm coming to a student on his or her walk to school.

Instead, the wheels of bureaucracy ground to a halt and now the two sides find themselves needing to make a decision a quick decision to a potentially hazardous situation.

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