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Coming soon: Crossing guards at Las Vegas Valley middle schools

Updated February 21, 2024 - 7:24 am

Clark County will nearly double the amount it spends on crossing guards as part of an effort to reduce the disproportionately large number of middle school students struck by vehicles in unincorporated Clark County.

County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to add 84 crossing guards to patrol 23 middle schools within 60 days. Commissioners amended the county’s crossing guard agreement with All City Management, boosting spending on crossing guards from $2.2 million to $4.03 million a year.

“It’s the prudent thing to do, it’s the financially savvy thing to do, and it’s the essential thing to do to protect our kids and keep them safe,” County Commissioner Michael Naft said. “While I’m under no illusion that this will solve every problem that we’re facing on our roads and our sidewalks, and even in our crosswalks, I strongly believe that by having a couple of extra pairs of hands, eyes, ears and professionals out there helping our kids move around safely, that we can absolutely make an impact.”

This year alone, 28 children have been struck by vehicles near middle schools in unincorporated Clark County, Naft noted.

Middle school students are more prone to being struck by vehicles because of their unpredictable nature and having more freedom than elementary-age students but not being as mature as high schoolers.

Naft has said that a Review-Journal investigation into crashes involving students played a part in the county’s decision to entertain adding guards at crosswalks near middle schools.

That report revealed that of all students, middle school children were most at risk when walking near schools.

State crash data for 2015-2019 showed 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. Over 150 of those children were ages 11 to 13. That number accounted for nearly 50 percent of the injuries over that time span, despite middle school students only making up 25 percent of the district’s total enrollment.

“What the data has told us … is that middle schools are extremely vulnerable,” Naft said. “They’re vulnerable disproportionately to our other schools.”

Decision hailed

Susan Smith, mother of Jonathan “Jonny” Smith, a 12-year-old student who was killed in 2019 after being struck by a speeding motorist while on his way home from Faiss Middle School in the southwest valley, wholeheartedly backed the commission’s decision.

“Jonny had a whole life in front of him,” Smith said Tuesday. “If there had been a crossing guard, it is conceivable that he’d still be alive today.”

Smith is a first-year teacher at Faiss, where she still sees students who are making their way to and from school having issues.

“I have about 160 students. A lot of them walk or ride their bikes to school,” Smith said. “When I drive to work there, I see students trying to cross at the crosswalk, and I also see the majority of cars not stop, and I have had other cars swing and go around me as I stop for them. That traffic knows that there is a crosswalk there, and they know there is a school, because when Metro was there policing the area, they stop. Metro can’t be there every day.”

As part of the amendment to add guards at middle schools, the program will track assaults on crossing guards, emergency calls regarding crosswalks and the recruitment, retention and attendance of crossing guards.

All involved hope having the guards in place will help increase the safety of children before and after school.

“There isn’t a single student at my school who doesn’t deserve to get to and from school safely,” Smith said. “Same is true of any middle school. You see those kids all have a whole life ahead of them.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X.

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