BARABOO, Wis. - As the start of the school year nears, communities are having a tough time filling a position key to keeping students safe. Baraboo police are making recruiting crossing guards a priority.
“It is so critical we have somebody to assist them stopping traffic,” Capt. Rob Sinden said at the intersection of 8th and Camp streets, where traffic was rushing by.
"It's four lanes, very fast,” Baraboo resident Elizabeth Brewer said, referring to 8th Street. “It's pretty much always busy."
This year, Brewer and her son Dylan only walk about a block to his elementary school.
“Next year, (we’ll cross) 8th street, because next year's middle school,” Brewer said. "It’s more nerve-racking for me than him."
With schools on either side of 8th street, doubling as Highway 33, it's important to have someone guiding the way.
"That is stupidly important,” Brewer said. “It's so busy."
“I think the general public doesn't give enough recognition to crossing guards,” Sinden said. “They need to know how important those positions are and what those people are giving up to create a safe environment for their kids."
Baraboo police provide crossing guards. Sinden has even worn the vest himself.
“I have many times over the years,” he said. "What looks easy to those passersby is not an easy task."
Even in inclement weather, the guards are at their posts day in and day out during the school year.
"Temperatures vary from -10 all the way up to 90,” Sinden said.
Cars don’t always stop. Sinden said years ago, a crossing guard was struck out in the village of West Baraboo, out of his jurisdiction.
“We've had close calls in the city as well,” Sinden said.
Currently, Baraboo police have five crossing guards, without any alternates to fill their shoes if they can’t make it.
"I'd like to have 100, I really would,” Sinden said, but added they’ve been seeing fewer and fewer applicants.
"It's not just Baraboo. In Portage, all the surrounding communities, because we're not seeing those adults that want to stand out in the rain, the inclement weather, etc.,” Sinden said. “It takes a special kind of person."
He said it takes a special kind of person who wants to keep kids safe and help guide them in more ways than one.
"They talk to those kids every day, that relationship is a unique relationship,” Sinen said. "They truly create that bond and those kids know that those crossing guards are there for their safety.”
"I like crossing guards,” Dylan said.
“They're nice,” Brewer added. “I don't think we've ever run into a mean one.”
Those interested in applying to be a crossing guard in Baraboo can contact community police officer Allison Goetz at 608-355-7359 or email@example.com.
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