August 28, 2019

Crossing Guards Are Still Needed As School Begins

By Anne Levin

The fall semester is about to start, and children will be walking and biking to public schools across town. With 24 street crossings to cover, the Princeton Police Department has been scrambling to make sure experienced crossing guards are stationed at each location so that students arrive at school and get home safely each day.

Since stepping up its outreach with variable message boards on prominent streets and advertisements in the media, the department has received several applications and is hoping to be fully staffed by the time classes resume on Wednesday, September 4. But there is still a substantial need for those who can be put on a wait list for full-time positions, or fill-in guards who can take over if necessary.

“These fill-in positions are invaluable to us, and would be perfect for someone in the Princeton area with some flexibility in their schedule,” said Lieutenant Geoff Maurer, in an email. “I always thought it would be great for a parent who has to get their child to a school, who could arrive ‘early’ to drop their child off and stay there to help for 30 minutes. We certainly welcome applications for fill-ins who might only be able to do a morning or afternoon crossing. These are still very beneficial to us.”

The town pays $15 for a 30-minute school crossing and $22.50 for a 45-minute shift. So if a person worked a morning and afternoon shift at a 30-minute crossing, they would make $30 a day. With an average of five school days a week, that averages out to about $600 a month.

“We are still accepting applications from those who might want to be put on a wait list for full-time positions, or who would like to be trained as a fill-in guard whom we could call when we have shortages,” Maurer said. “We use a fill-in guard if a regular crossing guard calls out sick or is unable to work. Having a list of fill-ins that we could call for coverage would allow us to keep officers free to respond to calls, run radar, and do other proactive policing.”

The police department is responsible for ensuring coverage for a minimum of 8,640 school crossings a year (24 x 180 school days). Based on a calendar year, in 2017 the police department was responsible for covering 990 vacant school
crossings. In 2018 that number rose to 1,064 vacant posts, so far in the 2019 calendar year officers have had to cover 675 posts, according to Maurer.

Crossing times for mornings are 7:45-8:30 a.m. or 8-8:30 a.m. For normal afternoon dismissals, the times are 2:45-3:30 p.m. or 2:55-3:25 p.m. There are some “early release” days for parent/teacher conferences and other activities, when school dismissals are1-1:30 p.m.

Guards need to be able to escort children across designated crossing zones; stop vehicular and pedestrian traffic in an efficient and orderly manner in all weather conditions; communicate effectively with children, parents, and the general public; report license plate numbers of vehicles that do not slow down or stop in crossing zones; report unsafe traffic conditions in school crossing zones; report suspicious people or vehicles hanging around school areas; and communicate safety instructions to students, parents, and motorists moving through the school safety zones.

Two years ago, Princeton Council honored Andy Tamasi, a crossing guard for 46 years, for his service at various locations around town. More than 200,000 Princeton school children crossed local streets under his watchful eye, with no injuries or accidents. “It’s very important,” Tamasi said at the time. “You’re making sure those kids don’t get hurt. You have to treat them like they’re yours.”

To apply, visit