RICHMOND, Va. – There is a shortage of crossing guards at Richmond Public Schools (RPS). Crossing guards are employed by the Richmond Police Department, who currently have 16 guards to cover 24 city elementary schools.
There are currently four vacancies, and three guards are out sick. Kristen Larson, 4th District City Councilwoman, said that not many people are applying because of the low pay scale.
“I’m frightened what could happen to students," said Leah Walder, a concerned parent who walks her child to school every day. Walder said she sees some near misses at Westover Hills Elementary.
“It’s scary because you can see how close these cars go and I think a lot of times they are speeding too," Walder said.
Walder said the traffic is hectic on Jahnke Road, where kids cross and people are speeding.
“Kids are trying to cross. People are u-turning in the middle of the street. Drivers aren’t paying attention. People are exceeding the speed limit," she said.
Walden told us the school has been without a crossing guard for years.
“I’m worried. I’m concerned that something terrible will have to happen before anybody does something," said Walder.
She said when she complained to school and police leaders, she was told “they don’t have enough resources.”
That’s concerning for Councilwoman Larson.
“When a crossing guard calls in sick, I mean it’s like the Wild West out there at the intersection," she said Kristen Larson.
Larson said it's been uphill battle to get school crossing guards.
“In my time on the school board, I definitely ran into some challenges. Just because RPD has so many needs they’re trying to meet in our city," she said.
Larson said she is also pushing for higher wages, incentives, and for RPS to oversee school crossing guards.
“I think it will ensure that RPS can respond more quickly to the needs and coordinate with the calendar, you know, there’s little things in there that are getting missed," said Larson.
Larson said she will introduce a paper before City Council in the coming months for school crossing guards to be assigned instead of Richmond police.
In the meantime, concerned parents like Walder said they will remain vigilant and “watch out for each other.”