The city of Solana Beach and the Solana Beach School District (SBSD) are partnering up to offer crossing guards to provide safe routes to school for children walking and riding on Lomas Santa Fe Drive. The crossing guards will be in place for the upcoming school year after Solana Beach City Council approved the agreement on July 10 and the Solana Beach School District board voted in favor on July 19.
At the July 10 Solana Beach City Council meeting, City Manager Greg Wade said the crossing guards were in response to safety concerns that council heard from the community over the last year, primarily for students crossing the intersection of I-5 and Lomas Santa Fe Drive.
“This has been a long time coming and something that I was pretty passionate about,” Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Jewel Edson said. “People say it takes a village and there were a lot of parents and students who brought this matter to the attention of council…they advocated for safer, friendlier more eco-friendly routes for themselves and for the entire community who walks or bikes along that busy corridor.”
City staff and the school district developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to share in the cost of providing these services—of the $59,242 per year, the city will fund 35 percent ($20,735) and the school district will be responsible for 65 percent or $38,507.
“The safety of our students and families is paramount and the efforts with this joint MOU demonstrate the commitment to that priority,” said SBSD Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger.
Wade said the city evaluated proposals from four companies, recommending ACMS. The ACMS contract includes a total of four guards: Three guards on the west side of I-5 and one on the east side of I-5, on site from 8:05 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. to help students safely get to and from Skyline and Solana Vista Elementary Schools.
Although the crossing guards are only needed for about 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, companies who provide these services cannot hire and retain employees to work just one hour a day. To satisfy labor law requirements and retain employees, the companies offer either minimum shifts of four hours per day or they pay extremely high hourly rates for shorter shifts—ACMS pays a lower hourly rate for four-hour shifts.
Solana Beach Mayor David Zito said as the city will be paying for additional hours, they might explore the opportunity to use the crossing guards for students traveling to Earl Warren Middle School as well.
Solana Beach City Council member Peter Zahn thanked the parents and children who brought the issue before the council and said he was happy that they were able to find a collaborative solution between the city and the school district.
At the SBSD board’s July 17 meeting, SBSD President Debra Schade said she was excited about the new partnership that will benefit the safety of students and the community as well as well as school staff—previously staff members had taken time from their school days to serve in the role of crossing guard at the busy intersections.
“I hope it really promotes more kids walking and riding bikes to school,” said SBSD board clerk Holly Lewry.