LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Community activists and parents packed City Hall Tuesday to call upon officials to address what they say is a shortage of crossing guards at nearly 170 intersections near schools.
On the same day that over 600,000 LAUSD students returned to classes, members of the Fix LA coalitionreleased a study showing that one-third of elementary school corners identified by the city as eligible for a crossing guard due to heavy traffic are being left unguarded.
The study from the SEIU-backed nonprofit cited the deadly crash at Citizens of the World/LeConte Middle School in Hollywood in February, where a mother was killed and her 10-year-old daughter was injured after they were hit by a semi truck while in a crosswalk.
According to the study, pay cuts have decimated the city’s crossing guard program, which has seen a 37 percent decline in staffing from 576 guards to 363 citywide.
“Our city, with its misguided budgetary decisions, is leaving hundreds of thousands of children at risk every day,” said Cheryl Parisi, chairwoman of the Coalition of City Unions. “The city does not have its child safety priorities correct.”
The Fix LA coalition claims the city could restore staffing levels by investing $3 million in the program.
Supporters took to the Los Angeles City Council chambers to voice their support for more staffing, including some who dressed in full crossing guard gear, complete with orange hats and reflectors.
In response to the study, LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer said student safety was among the district’s highest priorities for the new school year.
“In order to get to the graduation stage, you must first safely cross the street to get to the school,” Zimmer said. “If we have a city and a community that cannot invest in safe passages, we don’t get to scream about the graduation crisis.”
Since the accident at LeConte, the city has added a crossing guard to the school’s intersection.
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