School started today in Kodiak, and though there is no official crossing guard program this year, at least one man was out this morning, keeping students safe at the busiest crossing in town, at the corner of Birch and Mill Bay Road.
— (Crossing 1 23 sec "It’s the corner that needs … that’s why I’m there.")
That’s Don Roberts, who has volunteered as a crossing guard for a decade. He says just because the old crossing guard program is defunct, it doesn’t mean he’s going to stop making sure students get to school safely.
The most recent crossing guard solution – where the Salvation Army received money from the city and borough to divvy up among participating volunteers from local non-profits – ended this year. According to Kodiak City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski (Kenya-z’off-ski), it came down to staffing issues, which have plagued the program for years:
— (Crossing 2 37 sec "They ran into difficulty … we received no responses.")
She says the RFP was also sent to First Student, which provides bus service for the school district, but they did not respond either. The 13-page RFP was very detailed, and applicants were required to have a business license and insurance coverage.
As for Don Roberts acting as a freelance crossing guard, Kniaziowski (Kenya-z’off-ski) says it appears to be A-OK, and she wishes there were more like him:
— (Crossing 3 36 sec "If there is no program in … if they so chose.")
There may be a non-profit organization solely dedicated to providing crossing guard services on the horizon, but Roberts said that’s a conversation for a later date. In the meantime, he wants to stay out of the politics of the crossing guard issue:
— (Crossing 4 27 sec "I promised myself a long time ago … we’ve got it covered.")
Roberts says he likes to arrive at the intersection, within sight of three schools and on the edge of downtown’s largest residential district, before 7:45 in the morning. He’s on the job until at least 8:30, but often stays a little later for tardy students. Roberts has been doing this so long, he owns his own reflective vest, jacket and lighted baton, though his hand-held stop sign is on long-term loan from Main Elementary.
City Hall and the Kodiak Police Department have sent out announcements alerting parents that most intersections will likely not have crossing guards when school starts, and to remind drivers to watch for kids crossing the streets before and after school hours.
Tomorrow night at the Kodiak City Council work session Kniaziowski (Kenya-z’off-ski) says she’ll ask the council members to put the crossing guard issue on a future agenda for discussion.