Orem city is discovering that with growth in the number of elementary-age schoolchildren comes the need for more school crossing guards.
But not everyone is sure how the situation should be handled.According to Daryl Berlin, Orem's city manager, city officials are trying to determine who is responsible for providing the crossing guards and what should be the criteria for choosing them.
"The schools take the position that the city is responsible for the traffic flow," Berlin said.
Alpine School District representative Michael Robinson agreed. "The school's responsibility for the student begins on school grounds," he said.
The city can accept that, but City Councilman Kelvin Clayton said he believes the schools, as well as parents, should be involved in teaching children about traffic safety.
"I am all in favor of having a crossing guard where it is necessary," Clayton said. But she said children need to be taught and not have everything provided for them.
Clayton said one Orem school has two crossing guards on the same street.
"It seems a waste of taxpayers' money," he said. According to Clayton, Orem spends about $7,000 annually on each guard.
"The guards are expensive," Berlin said. "But it is an issue that we just can't say no to, because we are a city that cares for its youth."
Ted Peacock, director of Orem Public Safety, said, "I would be the last one to put a dollar amount on the value of school crossing guards."
Orem's Westmore Elementary School on 1200 South asked for another crossing guard, which would make three at this school.
According to Peacock, one concern is that a third crossing guard there would bring requests from other schools.
But the concern is not necessary, he said. For many other schools one guard is adequate and they "will notify us when they feel they need crossing guards and we will provide them."
Clayton, who works with a committee on transportation safety at the Utah Board of Education, said the safety of the children is the first concern, but there are ways to provide it with less expense.
The city could allot one guard per school and then teach all the children to use that route, he said.
Berlin said there are now 19 guards in the city and some schools have two while others don't have any.
"Many Orem elementary schools are located on major arterial and collector streets and they will need guards," Berlin said. Others won't need guards at all.
The Public Safety Department is surveying each area where guards have been assigned to determine need.
"We just need a consistent mechanism to decide," Berlin said. "It's a very emotional issue."
The city council has always been cooperative in this matter, Peacock said. He and Berlin said they cannot remember when the City Council hasn't approved a guard.