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45 elementary schools don't have crossing guards in Hillsborough County

Not all middle schools will having crossing guards
Posted at 6:39 PM, Apr 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 05:52:17-04

ABC Action News has learned that 45 elementary schools in the county do not have crossing guards in Hillsborough County as they do not meet hazardous walking conditions.

We have been following how Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is expanding their crossing guard program countywide to include middle schools.

However, since those stories aired, several parents from different elementary schools reached out to us about how their teachers, or staff are standing outside schools as crossing guards.

"It’s just confusing to us why we don’t have a crossing guard," said Kathy Yates, parent at Roosevelt Elementary School.

At Grady and Ballast Point Elementary Schools ABC Action News found staffers holding a stop sign and either directing traffic, or standing at a crosswalk waiting to help.

A spokesperson for Hillsborough County schools tells ABC Action News that staff are not trained to help as crossing guards, but that they regularly have staff that go above and beyond their duties for the safety of our students.

In total, ABC Action News confirmed with the sheriff's office that they have 45 elementary schools, five of those that are magnet that do not have crossing guards.

The reason?

The sheriff's office places crossing guards at intersections that are defined in Florida's hazardous walking statute.

A spokesperson for the department, Danny Alvarez, said they do a study at each school and use a formula to determine where crossing guards shall be placed. That formula includes 360 cars that pass through an intersection with at least ten kids that are not accompanied with an adult.

There are 145 public elementary schools in the county.

ABC Action News asked about expanding the crossing guard program across the 42 middle schools in Hillsborough, and we're told that the schools that meet the criteria for a crossing guard will receive one. However, it may not be all.

That criteria will be the same as the elementary schools.

The sheriff's office says there was some misinformation out there from before, but promise every middle school that qualifies will have a crossing guard.

We asked the sheriff's office why trained deputies aren't assisting schools that are putting their staff in crosswalks and were told that they are staffing the schools following Florida's statute.

We also reached out to Commissioner Stacy White who brought forward the agenda item to other county commissioners.

Just two weeks ago, commissioners voted on the final approval to put crossing guards at middle schools countywide.

The agenda item read: B-9 (a) Approve a payment to the Sheriff's Office in the amount of $510,000 as start-up funding necessary to begin hiring and training crossing guards for countywide middle schools for the FY 19-20 school years. (b) Approve a FY 19 budget amendment to appropriate $710,000 from countywide general fund cash stabilization reserves which will reduce these reserves from $35,751,910 to $35,041,910. $200,000 of the appropriated amount will be budgeted in the capital improvement program for middle school crosswalk improvements with the remaining $510,000 being budgeted as a transfer to the Sheriff's Office. This FY 19 budget amendment will appropriate $710,000 from countywide general fund cash stabilization reserves which will reduce these reserves from $35,751,910 to $35,041,910.

We asked Commissioner Stacy White about the sheriff's office clarifying that middle schools that meet criteria will receive crossing guards.

White said in part in, "As the Sheriff will be administering this program, it will be his decision to determine which middle schools will warrant a crossing guard, as is the case with the elementary schools. The allotted funding will most definitely provide for crossing guards at every traditional public middle school countywide, should the Sheriff determine that is warranted.

Although a study is necessary to determine where crossing guards are warranted, it is certainly possible that the results could show that they are warranted at every single traditional public middle school. I have full confidence that the Sheriff will place crossing guards to ensure the safety of our traditional public middle school students.”

The sheriff's office said they do have at least two elementary schools up for a new review to see if they meet criteria for crossing guards. Grady and Roosevelt Elementary Schools are on the list of reviews.

ABC Action News spoke to parents who helped lead the charge for crossing guards at middle schools, and they say they were under the impression that all middle schools would have crossing guards.