What would you do with an extra $115,000?
New Rochelle schools have full day kindergarten across the entire city. There is no mid-day dismissal at all in New Rochelle. So, why do we still have 18 crossing guards working a two hour lunch shift? There are no children to cross.
In mid December I was home from work on a Friday and walked to the deli for a sandwich. I exchanged a few words with our crossing guard and continued on. He is a great crossing guard, works hard, is friendly to the children and is no nonsense to the drivers. But soon I wondered if we have full day kindergarten now, why is he at his post at lunch? I looked around. There were absolutely no children to cross.
I asked the City Why
So I tried to find out why. Since mid-December I have been politely emailing and communicating with varied parties in city hall including: the city manager, city council people (both former and current), committee chair people, and police department officials. I have approached city representatives around the city, in the downtown and at city functions. No one has offered any real reason as to why we have lunch time crossing guards when we don't really need them. One short email response did offer that it was because of “collective bargaining”. No one seemed to care. Some agreed with me, but no one offered a fix or much of anything at all. More emails, more weeks and months passed and nothing. What a waste of taxpayer money!
I didn't give up. Last week I emailed a FOIL request for information regarding the crossing guards. The city officials were very responsive to my request. (It was quite easy, actually, and cost only $5.25.) The contract is linked here. Here is the list of locations and schedule.
Four Year Contract
It turns out that the contract is a four year one that ends in 2011, renewable every year after that. The daily rate of crossing guards ranges from $64 to $77, or an average of $71.
There are 180 days in the school year. The hours of a crossing guard are roughly one hour in the morning, two hours at lunch, and one hour at dismissal. The regular hours are: 8:00-9:00; 11:00-1:00; 2:30-3:40. Theoretically, removing the two hours of lunch time non-crossing would result in a 50% cost savings or about $115,000 per year.
Waste of Money and Time
At this point the crossing guards sometimes don’t even bother to show up at lunch. Others dutifully do show up and stand their corners. Not only is this a waste of money, it is a waste of our crossing guard's time. This is not the crossing guards fault. The ones that I have interacted with are very good public servants.
This makes me wonder about other city contracts. Maybe it is time to look over each contract and see if they make sense anymore.
On page 12 of the contract it says this:
The City reserves the right, however, to change the schedule in accordance with the needs of the public and parochial school systems upon advance notice to the employee with a copy to CSEA. Notice shall be given as soon as the need is recognized by the City. It is contemplated that, barring unforeseen or unusual circumstances, at least one week's notice can be given.
Here is a list of the corners where the invisible lunchtime students cross:
Main & Drake
Lincoln & Webster
Washington & 6th
Washington & Webster
Sussex & Albert Leonard
Webster & Mayflower
Quaker & Sussex
Weyman & Emmett
Pelham & Franklin
Lispenard & Lyons
Webster & Glenmore
Pelham & North
Pelham & Church
Rogers & Iselin
Weyman & Elm
Drake & Elm
Washington & 4th
Calhoun & Lakeside