More Crossing Guards Could Soon be Watching Out for CPS Students

Cincinnati City Council passed legislation allowing volunteer crossing guards to patrol school zone intersections

click to enlarge Mayor John Cranley and city officials announce legislation allowing volunteer crossing guards at school zone intersections - Seth Weber
Seth Weber
Mayor John Cranley and city officials announce legislation allowing volunteer crossing guards at school zone intersections

You might soon see your neighbor — and maybe even Mayor John Cranley — helping your kids cross the street to school.

City council passed an ordinance Wednesday which will allow for the appointment of volunteer crossing guards in addition to the paid crossing guards the school district currently has. A separate ordinance was also passed which will allow Cincinnati Public Schools to appoint crossing guards, whereas previously only the city had the power to do so.

The district is currently up to 95 crossing guards, said Scott Adams, CPS chief operations officer. Five or six new crossing guards have been added since Adams started his position in June last year “to cover problem schools that weren’t addressed in the past,” like Dater and West High.

“Due to the terrible speeding and people not observing the traffic rules, I thought it was serious that we put more crossing guards there,” he said.

Under Ohio Revised Code, elementary schools, but not high schools, are required to have crossing guards, said CPS Board of Education member Mike Moroski, while pointing out that most of the children who have been involved in pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions in the past months have been high schoolers.

To Moroski, crossing guards are more effective than any light fixtures or warning signs.

“When there’s a human being standing in the middle of the road with a stop sign, I notice that more than a blinking yellow light,” he said.

While a policy of more crossing guards could on its face seem to lead to safer streets, a 2015 BMC Public Health study conducted in Toronto found “no significant change in collision rates with the implementation of new school crossing guards."

“According to Toronto Police Services, school crossing guards are most likely to be implemented in locations, particularly intersections, with higher traffic risks,” the study states. “It is possible that the effect of the guards was not strong enough to overcome this increased danger.”

However, the authors did say it’s possible there was indeed a “positive safety effect of the guards, as pedestrian volumes are likely to increase at a specific location with the implementation of a school crossing guard,” but data on traffic and pedestrian volume was not collected during the course of the study.

Moroski says he plans to volunteer once he goes through crossing guard training, as do Cranley and his staff.

“People would text me and say, “I’m just going to stand out here in the street,’ ” he said. “I’m texting them saying, 'Go out, you can do it now.’ ”

Aside from more crossing guards, Moroski also pointed to other initiatives, including later drop-off times and changes that see students dropped off on the side of the street their school is on. The latter has already been enacted at Dater and West High.

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