Clark County is looking to bolster its school crossing guard program by including middle schools.
The initiative would add 100 crossing guards to 25 middle schools in unincorporated Clark County at a minimum cost of $943,880 per year, Clark County Commissioner Michal Naft told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That estimate was provided in October 2022 and is expected to be a higher amount today, Naft said.
Although not included in the action Clark County is considering, other jurisdictions also have expressed interest in adding crossing guards to middle schools in their areas.
“Henderson has already been wanting to move in this direction. I think it would certainly motivate the cities (Las Vegas and North Las Vegas) to do something similar,” Naft said.
The item was presented during the Clark County Commission meeting last week, and the idea has been discussed on several other occasions over the past few years.
“It is fairly inexpensive given some of the other items that we vote on on a routine basis,” Naft said during last week’s meeting. “The benefit is really unmatched.”
Thirty-eight crashes involving students have occurred this year in school zones, accoridng to Naft. A Review-Journal investigation into crashes involving students last year played a role in the county’s decision making.
The Review-Journal report noted middle school students were most at risk when walking near schools.
Also, 340 school-age children were injured in crashes within a quarter-mile of Clark County School District campuses during hours immediately before and after school, according to a Review-Journal analysis of state crash data from 2015 through 2019.
Of those, children ages 11 to 13 accounted for over 150 students who were struck by cars near schools. That accounted for nearly half the injuries over that time span, despite middle school students only making up 25 percent of CCSD’s total enrollment.
‘We’ve just got to do better’
“That certainly motivated some of the decision making,” Naft said of the report. “For me the barriers are not big enough to stand in the way of us from doing some good” — meaning cost or a potential lack of crossing guard candidates.
“We’ve just got to do better,” Naft said. “It is not a good enough reason not to do it.”
Middle school students are more prone to crashes due to their unpredictable nature and them having a little more freedom than elementary-age students, but are not as mature as high schoolers.
“It’s a transition time for people,” Naft said. “I think you’ve also had more (crossing guard) coverage out there. Before the school district changed the schedule you had a lot of middle school families who thought the crossing guards were there for their school, but they happened to be there for elementary school next door.”
Impatient and distracted motorists and students also contribute to crashes, officials noted.
The school district said it has been actively engaging with the county to identify ways to increasing pedestrian and bicyclist safety for students and adults as they travel to and from school. The district has also been educating students on best practices to follow during their commutes.
“The CCSD Police Department, along with CCSD’s Safe Routes to Schools, works closely with schools to provide age-appropriate education activities and outreach to students on safe travel as road users,” CCSD said in a statement. “These activities, enforcement initiatives, and road infrastructure improvements, coupled with the county’s leadership in expanding their crossing guard program to middle schools in unincorporated Clark County, will ideally make our community safer for pedestrians of all ages.”
Hope for quick action
Naft noted that his district, District A, and District B are close to exceeding last year’s crashes involving students, with District F already surpassing its total from last year, with still several weeks to go until the end of the year.
The commission last week voted to move forward with a request for proposal to add crossing guards to middle schools. The matter could be brought up for action at a meeting next year.
“My hope is for this to go into effect at the beginning of next school year,” Naft said.