ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Crossing guards are in high demand in Central Florida, with one county taking extra steps to secure more applicants.
Bertis Negron, who leads the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Crossing Guard Training Program, said that many crossing guards are having to double down in order to provide proper coverage for students.
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“We don’t want the kids crossing without no one crossing with them. There are about 14 of those 20-something locations that there is not a guard at all,” Negron said.
As of Thursday in Orange County, with nearly 20 vacancies and seven trainees, 305 crossing guards currently have to cover 474 crosswalks. It’s being handled with around 150 crossing guards doing double duty at elementary and middle schools.
The need for crossing guards also reaches past county lines, with Lake County asking for help in July to fill positions at Four Corners in Clermont. In September, Polk County began looking to provide crosswalk coverage in Davenport, Lake Wales and Lakeland.
One trainee, Shirley Cooper, said she worked with Orange County Public School for 23 years in its transportation department and knows firsthand how a crossing guard can make a difference.
“When I was on transportation there was a fatality on Oak Ridge, the body was still there on the road, so that was one of the things we had noticed,” Cooper said.
Details of that tragedy have faded over time, but Cooper said she remembers thinking about how a crossing guard could’ve saved that person’s life. For that reason, she said more people should consider becoming a crossing guard and lending a few hours of their day to serve their community.
“It’s very important to have a crossing guard at these crosswalks to get these babies home safe,” Cooper said.
Back in the classroom, Negron said an ideal candidate for the job could be anyone with a love for the outdoors and kids, with an hour or two to spare in the morning and evening.
“So, those are usually the people who start saying ‘Hey, this is something I can do, I’m out on retirement and want to help the kids in the community and be a part of the community in a positive way,’” Negron said.
Orange County is currently in the hiring process for crossing guards, with a starting pay rate at around $15 an hour.
You can learn more about the Orange County Crossing Guard Program by visiting its website here.