Dougherty County Schools want funding for crossing guards - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty County Schools want funding for crossing guards

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May 31, 2006

Albany -- It could get a lot more dangerous for your kids to walk to school. Apparently, nobody's willing to pay for crossing guards in Dougherty County. School board members say it's not their responsibility, but some parents don't like that attitude.    

Safety first for Martha Corhen as she watches her grandchildren play at Riverfront park. She's worried the school system isn't putting safety first by refusing to pay for school crossing guards.

"That is so sad that all of the money that is being spent in Albany and we cannot fund these kids for having a school crossing guard," said concerned grandparent Martha Corhen.

Clara Thompson knows how important the job is. She's worked as a crossing guard in Dougherty County for ten years, protecting students she says are like her own grandchildren.

"If the cars are flying, that's another story, there wouldn't be a chance unless there is a guard out there to get them stopped," said crossing guard Clara Thompson.

The Albany Police Department used to pay for the crossing guards, but now the school system has its own police force and APD told school leaders last year it would stop footing the bill this year. Apparently, the school board didn't plan to take on the cost.

"It's not our responsibility by law to get the kids across the street. If they're on our buses it's our responsibility, if they're walking we're not until they get on our campus," said Dougherty County School board chair Willie Weaver.

The school system asked the city and county for money. So far, both said no.

"They believe that by not funding and the county believes that by not funding it that we will fund it, they're wrong. We will not take on that responsibility ourselves," said Weaver. 

Many parents say something needs to be done.

"I'm personally asking the school board and I'm also asking our mayor, Mayor Adams let's find some money, let's find some money wherever the money can be found," said Corhen.

If that money isn't found, the school board may consider using volunteers, parents, and school staff as crossing guards when school starts in August.

Fifty-seven crossing guards were employed to help Dougherty County students cross streets safely this year. School Board Chairman Willie Weaver says the job probably could be done with fewer crossing guards.

The school system will study intersections to see if that's true. The cost to keep 57-crossing guards on the job is about 220-thousand dollars. That amounts to less than two-tenths of one percent of the school board's budget.  

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