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Crossing guards needed
North Dallas: Some schools will rely on police as year begins
Saturday, August 12, 2006
By KIM BREEN / The Dallas Morning News

A shortage of crossing guards in North Dallas could leave some busy intersections near elementary schools without protection Monday.

Ten schools that are in Dallas but are part of the Plano, Richardson and Carrollton-Farmers Branch school districts lack crossing guards, said Louann Cagle, a public service officer with the Dallas Police Department. The department wants to hire about 15 more people.

Ms. Cagle said she has had trouble in the past finding applicants for positions north of LBJ Freeway.

"This is the worst," she said.

Hot weather and high gas prices have probably contributed, she said. Ms. Cagle said the department has only one application pending, and it takes about two weeks to train a guard, she said. Other parts of Dallas do not have a shortage, she said.

Ms. Cagle said public service officers and police officers will try to fill in the gaps, but some busy intersections will probably lack any city help. She said Friday afternoon that she had not been able to contact principals at several of the affected schools.

At Mitchell Elementary in Plano, parents received an e-mail Friday afternoon asking them to escort their children across a busy intersection near the school next week.

Plano schools spokeswoman Nancy Long said the district has been assured that Dallas police officers will fill in. District security staff will also be at the school to make sure children are safe, she said.

"Our people will be around to assist as needed, but they're not assuming the role of crossing guards because of liability issues," Ms. Long said.

Plano's crossing guard program is fully staffed except for two positions that are covered by staff substitutes, said coordinator Michelle Roberts. She said she spends the entire summer making sure that no school is left short a crossing guard. "I prepare well in advance."

Angela Shelley, a spokeswoman for Carrollton-Farmers Branch, said the district was assured Friday that a public safety officer would be at intersections near the school Monday. District staff will meet with police Monday to discuss a plan beyond that.

"Obviously, school safety is our No. 1 priority," she said. The district hopes that getting the word out about the shortage will lead people who live near the schools to apply for crossing guard jobs.

E-mail kbreen@dallasnews.com

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