AUGUSTA — Sherry MacArthur’s position as a city crossing guard was cut earlier this year, but on the first day of school, she reported to work anyway.

For nine years, Augusta paid her to help students at Lincoln Elementary School traverse Western Avenue on school mornings and afternoons, but in June, an Augusta school board committee voted to eliminate the city’s 10 crossing guard positions after officials said a review of the locations found five that students didn’t use.

But on Wednesday and Thursday, the first two days of school, MacArthur, 48, of Farmingdale, went to the intersection between Cushman and Florence streets with her hand-held stop sign.

MacArthur said she’s had a number of close calls on the road with fast-traveling drivers on the four-lane highway who often don’t stop, and she didn’t want to leave children to cross it themselves.

“I’ve gotten quite attached to my kids,” she said. “My conscience won’t allow me to not be here.”

After the vote to cut the positions, school board members have said they would consider bringing positions back if needed, particularly after a realignment of populations at the city’s four elementary schools that started Wednesday, shuffling 45 students among buildings.

Superintendent James Anastasio has said fewer children are walking to school than in past years. The change would save nearly $47,000 a year. Crossing guards were paid nearly $9 hourly for three hours of work, morning and afternoon, each school day.

Augusta school board member Deborah Towle, chairwoman of the committee that voted to cut the crossing guard position, said Western Avenue may be a good spot for a guard and urged parents to report problematic crossing areas to the superintendent’s office.

“It won’t go unheeded, for sure,” she said.

MacArthur said she sees a need for her former job. On Thursday afternoon, she helped three children cross the road, but she said there were six on Wednesday and 12 regulars at the end of the last school year.

She has a part-time job at a local screen printing shop, but she said she depended on the crossing guard job to supplement her income and wants to be reinstated. For now, however, she said she’ll keep reporting to work each school morning and afternoon.

“I don’t consider it an inconvenience,” she said. “It gives me peace of mind knowing that the kids are taken care of.”

Jason Wyman, whose 10- and 11-year-old boys must cross four-lane Western Avenue to get to school, has been critical of the city’s decision to take the guard away, saying it could be dangerous for his sons.

He said MacArthur has “always been there” for them, and he hopes the school board will reconsider its decision and reinstate guards at least at some crossings.

“I hope they look at which ones are most dangerous,” Wyman said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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