Schenectady’s school crossing guards may not get much respect or, at $8.65 per hour, very much money. But theirs is not the most strenuous job around and, even though it involves being outside, the shift is never more than an hour long.
So what, all of a sudden, is the big problem? According to a story in yesterday’s Gazette, Schenectady guards either don’t want to show up for work when the weather is inclement — sometimes not even bothering to call in “sick” so substitutes can be found — or think it’s OK to sit in their warm, dry cars while the kids cross busy streets themselves. It’s not.
The Schenectady Police Department, which hires and supervises these guards and can fire them if necessary, needs to make clear to them from the start: If they don’t plan on doing their job, they shouldn’t bother taking it.
That means getting to their post on time every day, staying outside for the duration of the shift — regardless of whether it’s 70 degrees or 7, sunny or snowing — and making sure their supervisor knows it if they can’t show up.
Some guards may not realize, but their visual presence is important as a deterrent for motorists who might otherwise be inclined to go barreling through a neighborhood even when schoolchildren are around.
The department must not only establish tough rules with regard to attendance, punctuality, etc., it must enforce them. Guards who can’t or won’t abide by those rules should be sent home, permanently.