TAMPA, Fla. — With a week or so before the start of the school year, Tampa Bay area school districts face shortages of teachers, bus drivers, and now crossing guards.
“It’s an issue across the board,” Normal Runkles said. “We are all dealing with it.”
Runkles is the crossing guard supervisor for the Clearwater Police Department. Tampa Bay area law enforcement are responsible for staffing and supplying crossing guards for the schools within their jurisdiction.
School leaders told ABC Action News that they’re aware of the shortage and feel comfortable with each agency's ability to make sure students are safe getting to and from school.
“This is a result of the transportation shortages we are all having,” said Wayne Bertsch with Pasco County Schools.
Adding to safety concerns for parents, Pasco County schools had to cut bus routes due to the bus driver shortage. That means thousands of middle and high school students will be walking to school this fall. Students living within a two-mile radius of their middle or high school will have to walk.
“The schools have changed their bell schedules also. For families and students, something we recommend is sitting down with your students and talk to them about riding their bikes or walking this year,” said Britney Morris, Pasco Co. Sheriff’s office.
Morris continued, “Maybe take a day or two before school starts and practice that walk that way; they get that routine built up."
ABC Action News reached out to all law enforcement agencies across the area and all have between five to 12 vacant crossing guard positions they are looking to fill. Clearwater PD has 42 crossing guards in training. Runkles said he’d like to hire 10 more to be fully staffed.
“This is new for us,” he said. “We haven’t struggled with getting people to do this job.”
All of the local agencies said they do have other options like getting officers or deputies to help out, teachers, and or school staff.
“We will make sure students are safe,” said Runkles.
CROSSING GUARD APPLICATION LINKS:
- CLEARWATER: https://www.myclearwater.com/Home/ShowDocument?id=728
- PINELLAS CO: https://pcsoweb.com/school-crossing-guards
- HILLSBOROUGH CO: https://teamhcso.com/JobDescription/Detail/e64b54cf-f258-4127-a418-60f48c12c7ff/Crossing-Guard
- PASCO CO: https://www.pascosheriff.com/
- MANATEE CO. https://www.manateesheriff.com/about/bureaus/enforcement/school_crossing_guards.php