Some longtime crossing guards not coming back to Henderson schools

They see each kid for just a minute or two a day. But standing on the same corners, month after month and year after year, they become a part of children’s lives.

“I know 99 percent of my kids’ names — who goes to what parent, who goes to what car,” said Shannon Bly, who has been a crossing guard at Newton Elementary School for almost five years.

But when Henderson schools reopen in the new year, she and some other guards won’t be on their corners.

The City Council voted in November to outsource its crossing guards, aiming to save $100,000 a year.

Guards soon will work for a private company, All City Management Services, instead of the city police department.

Officials with the company and the city said they expect most current crossing guards — many of whom are retirees — to apply for and take the new jobs.

“They’ll still be able to see the same kids,” Police Chief Pat Moers said.

But some guards decided they didn’t want to work for a private company. Their looming departures left them and parents saddened during the last school week of 2014.

“I really hate leaving them with somebody else,” Bly said of the kids at her school in eastern Henderson.

The city has reassured guards and parents there will be the same number of guards, 145, in the same places. Moers said he’s confident children will be as safe under the outsourced guard program as they are now.

Police still will decide how many guards are needed and where, and the city has the right to end the contract after 2015.

Henderson will pay All City, based in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., just under $899,000 a year.

The city piggybacked on a contract the company already has with Las Vegas police.

All City says guards it hires from the city will be paid the same wages, though new hires likely will be paid less.

The city expects to save money on workers’ compensation and unemployment claims. But city and company officials could not directly answer the question of how All City will be able to provide the service more cheaply if it employs the same number of guards at mostly the same wages.

Todd Peters, a deputy police chief, said All City might be able to save money on insurance for the guards because it has a larger pool of people. The company has thousands of guards in states including California, New Mexico, Texas and Michigan.

Patricia Pohl, the company’s operations director, said she wasn’t sure how many guards will leave. The company was hosting meetings with current guards last week and is accepting applications for new hires.

Usually, Pohl said, about 10 percent of guards leave when a city outsources. Pohl said she understands why people don’t like change: She started one meeting last week by telling those assembled, “I bet you folks feel like you’ve been kicked to the curb.”

Pohl said All City has had to battle rumors that the new company would change people’s hours or corners or cut their pay — none of which, she said, is planned. Moers said the city has tried to answer guards’ questions and address misconceptions.

Bly and another guard, Jerry Enlow, suggested the city brought some of the misconceptions on itself and should have been more open when it was considering outsourcing.

Enlow, 74, said he saw being a crossing guard as a “civic duty,” so he decided to stop after 3½ years.

“I don’t approve of the city farming these jobs out, especially to a state of California company,” he said recently as he waited for kids on his corner near McCaw Elementary School.

Enlow questioned whether outsourcing crossing guards is the best way for the city to save $100,000. He suggested the city look at its highly paid executive staff first.

Last week at Newton Elementary, many parents walking their kids home after school told Bly they would miss her.

Sarah Flake said having crossing guards she knows makes her feel safer about her kids walking to school by themselves.

“We obviously like to see friendly faces,” she said.

Contact Eric Hartley at ehartley@reviewjournal.com or 702-550-9229. Find him on Twitter: @ethartley.

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