Crossing guards

Crossing guards help Badger Ridge Middle School students traverse North Main Street on Jan. 6. The service, previously run by the Verona Police Department, is now under private management.

On Jan. 2, All City Management Services began coordinating Verona’s crossing guards, bringing with it some new policies for students and parents.

The California-based company, which bills itself as the nation’s largest provider of school crossing guards, picked up the recruitment and management duties the Verona Police Department had previously been responsible for.

The department turned to the California company after struggling to recruit crossing guards within the school district, Verona police chief Bernie Coughlin said. The Common Council authorized spending up to $125,000 for the service, which covers all costs of the guards, in its 2020 budget.

Coughlin told the Press that the problem had been going on for several years, often forcing the police department to pay overtime to staff. The issue became more urgent last spring after alders took a closer look at school crossing safety when a 12 year old was hit by a car on the way to an after school program at Badger Ridge Middle School.

“We made the change because we had to,” Coughlin said.

Tom King, a regional manager with All City, said that while most procedures and policies remain the same as before, the company does have some additional policies students and parents could notice.

For one thing, children and adults being crossed at the guards’ postings are now required to wait until the guard has gained control of the intersection before crossing. This occasionally causes students to wait longer than they had been.

In addition, adults such as parents at an intersection with guards will need to be crossed with the assistance of the guard, rather than being able to cross by themselves.

King, who is based in Michigan, said the new policies are sometimes an adjustment.

“Crossing guards are in the process of retraining the kids,” King said.

Coughlin other communities in Wisconsin who use the company to staff their crossing guard posts – Sun Prairie, in particular – referred VPD to the company.

Verona police officers have still had to step in to assist at some posts so far, Coughlin acknowledged. A provision in the contract lowers the city’s cost by $40 for every hour not covered by its crossing guards.

Coughlin said the department has been providing help to All City as needed and would continue to do so to ease the transition between the police department and the new management, but it had not committed to a specific transition time period.

Though several crossing guards quit when All City took over management from the police department, King said the company had found replacements for those employees and expected all crossings to be fully staffed by next week.

Renee Hickman can be contacted at renee.hickman@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @ReneeNHickman