HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Starting next school year, middle schools in Hillsborough County will have crossing guards after a series of ABC Action News reports showed parents were raising their own money to hire them.
In the initial report from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, they estimate they would need around 140 crossing guards and 24 area supervisors.
On Wednesday, commissioners voted to expand the crossing guard program at the 42 middle schools in the county.
The crossing guards will be implemented in a three year process at crosswalks that are deemed to be in need first.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White and Sheriff Chad Chronister said in early February that they wanted to expand the crossing guard program that is run through the sheriff’s office.
In two months, the sheriff’s office and county leaders studied how much it would cost, how many crossing guards they would need and what schools would need better infrastructure such as crosswalks, signs and more.
Since our first story of parents raising their own money to fund private crossing guards, two other public schools followed their lead.
Mulrennan Middle School and Rodgers Middle School have signed contracts with The Crossing Guard company. Soon, Randall Middle School will too.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister was at Wednesday’s meeting to hear the discussion on funding an initial $500,000 to allow the sheriff’s office to start the hiring process.
In total, the sheriff’s office said they would need an annual budget of $1 million dollars to keep the program running.
Wednesday’s vote came one week after ABC Action News reported a third person was hit in a crosswalk less than a mile way from Barrington Middle School in Riverview.
Since the student was hit, parents who live nearby, have been volunteering their time to help students cross in the crosswalk.
ABC Action News has asked the sheriff’s office how many crossing guards would be at each school, but they say they’re still working to determine how many each school would receive. They say some schools may need more areas covered than others.
"We will now go prioritize those schools that need crossing guards the quickest and we’ll go on a recruiting push to try and get crossing guards," said Chad Chronister.
Commissioner Stacy White released a statement to us about today's vote, "we live in a society where people are more distracted and hurried than ever. This applies to both kids and adults. Adding crossing guards to our middle schools will not only help these kids - who are as young as the sixth grade - to cross the street safely, but will also potentially get the attention of adults that might otherwise drive through school zones carelessly. Additionally, as pointed out during the County Commission meeting, crossing guards also play a role in teaching kids about pedestrian safety."
The sheriff's office will start recruiting crossing guards immediately.
For more information on who can be hired, click here.
Story developing, refresh for updates. ABC Action News reporter Nicole Grigg will have a full report at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.