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Santa Clarita weighing additional crossing guards for schools

Posted: April 6, 2013 1:27 p.m.
Updated: April 6, 2013 1:27 p.m.

New crossing guards may be on the way for four local elementary schools, depending on the outcome of some city studies, Santa Clarita city officials say.

But before new guards can be approved, the city’s Traffic Engineering Division has to conduct studies to determine if intersections near schools are busy enough to warrant crossing guards, according to Rick Gould, the city’s director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

“Obviously, safety of the kids is always the priority,” Gould said Friday.

Ian Pari, Santa Clarita’s senior traffic engineer, said the city is examining placing crossing guards at four elementary schools: Fair Oaks Ranch, Leona Cox, Canyon Springs and Old Orchard.

Pari said the decision whether to place a crossing guard depends on the amount of pedestrian traffic at a particular intersection and the “conflicting vehicle volume” — the number of cars that drive through the intersection’s crosswalk in an hour.

Traffic engineers also consider what kind of “stop control” there is at an intersection, whether it be a stop sign, a traffic light, or no stop indicator at all.

The city already provides crossing guards at 20 schools in the Newhall, Saugus Union and Sulphur Springs districts, according to a staff report presented to the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission last week.

The Santa Clarita Community Services division is responsible for equipping, hiring, training and supervising all crossing guards in the city.

“We let the Community Services division know the results of our studies; then they coordinate with school districts to see if we can put a crossing guard at that particular school,” Pari said.

Since incorporating in 1987, the city has paid for crossing guards, Gould said. The city’s budget for the program for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, is about $268,966.

The money goes to pay 33 crossing guards and nine on-call guards, according to the staff report.
Santa Clarita’s traffic division also plays a role in the program by mapping suggested routes to school that minimize pedestrian exposure to traffic.

In addition, the city has obtained state grant money to increase the visibility of crosswalks near 21 elementary schools over the past six years.

Bolder crosswalk paint, fluorescent signs and in some cases flashing lights have been installed around schools in the Newhall, Saugus and Sulphur Springs districts at a cost of about $3.4 million in grant funds.
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