HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Bay districts are facing a crossing guard shortage as they prepare for the start of the school year.
8 On Your Side reached out to local counties about the number of vacant crossing guard positions.
Here are the number of crossing guards needed in each county:
- Hillsborough County: 40
- Pinellas County: 28
- Manatee County:18
- Pasco County: 5
- Polk County: 5
In Hillsborough County, there are 252 school crossing guards that cover 325 crossing locations at 146 schools—111 elementary schools and 35 middle schools.
The guards face a number of challenges on a daily basis, including:
- Speeding in a school zone
- Vehicles stopping in the crosswalk preventing the crossing guard from safely crossing students.
- Vehicles moving through the crosswalks while students are in the crosswalk.
- Parents stopping in the street and allowing their children to exit the vehicle in traffic.
Theresa Simpson has worked as a crossing guard with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years.
“We’re like a quarterback, we’ve got to know where everybody is at,” she said.
According to Simpson, there are a number of things a crossing guard should to be aware of while on the job.
“I’m looking for the traffic. If it’s a traffic light, how the cars are responding. If it’s a regular crossing just look for the gaps that I can get into and stop safely for kids to cross,” Simpson explained.
Marjorie Johnson also works with HCSO as a crossing guard.
“We want to keep our kids safe. There are so many uncertainties but us being crossing guars, we’re going to be here to keep the kids safe,” Johnson said.
Simpson tells 8 On Your Side the students make the work worth the effort.
“The kids, you never know what’s going to happen. They say the darndest things. It’s different everyday every crossing,” she said.