AUGUSTA — The Board of Education will take public input at a special meeting Thursday on the elimination earlier this year of the city’s school crossing guard jobs.

The board also will consider providing “door-to-door busing” for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students who now are picked up at bus stops.

The city’s three-member personnel committee agreed over the summer to eliminate the 10 crossing guard positions. Superintent James Anastasio said Tuesday some board members wanted to give the public more of a chance to weigh in and then discuss it as a full board.

“If the board wants to make changes, they need to make that decision sooner, rather than later,” he said Tuesday.

A handful of parents and former crossing guards have objected to the change publicly, but Anastasio said at a Sept. 8 personnel committee meeting that only one parent had called the superintendent’s office to complain.

Earlier this month, the committee agreed to seek volunteers to cross students, but Anastasio said Tuesday no volunteers have come forward.

Parents and crossing guards have said they’re particularly concerned about students crossing some of the city’s busiest four-lane roads, including Western Avenue.

Augusta already has one volunteer crossing guard, Sherry McArthur, of Farmingdale, who helped students across Western Avenue on their way to and from Lincoln Elementary School for nine years as a paid crossing guard, and who has been reporting for work this school year even though the school department cut her position.

She said she has done so because she’s worried a child could get hit by a car while crossing the street. She has advocated for restoring the paid crossing guard positions.

That crossing is the same one that concerns parent Jason Wyman, whose children cross Western Avenue to get to Lincoln Elementary School and catch the bus to Cony High School.

“So they’re going to see how it goes — what, until a kid gets hit? Until my kid gets hit?” he said to the Kennebec Journal in August. “All it takes is once. I couldn’t believe they’d done this.”

He said he learned from a crossing guard that the positions had been cut and was surprised there was no public discussion beforehand.

Wyman said even he, as an adult using the crosswalk, doesn’t feel safe crossing Western Avenue where his sons cross between the Sherwin Williams paint store and Pizza Hut. The speed limit is 25 mph, he said, but people drive much faster.

The meeting is Thursday beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Capital Area Technical Center.

The positions were eliminated, officials said, because few children walk to school and it would save money.

Anastasio and Donna Madore, assistant superintendent, spent time observing all of the school crossing locations earlier this year and said they saw no children cross at four of the crossings. As few as one and as many as five crossed at the other crossings.

In 2014 Augusta spent $52,500 and in 2013 $61,000 on crossing guards, according to Kathy Casparius, business manager for the schools. Crossing guards were paid nearly $9 an hour for three hours of work each school day.

Committee members agreed at the Sept. 8 meeting the school system would seek volunteers to serve as crossing guards, ask city officials to step up enforcement of traffic laws and look into lowering speed limits near elementary schools.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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