Crossing guards ready for duty
FAIRFIELD — When school starts in two weeks, the town’s crossing guards will be on the job.
According to Lt. Robert Kalamaras, the Police Department has its full complement of crossing guards — 17 full-time guards, two alternates and a coordinator.
“They are at intersections that are heavily traveled by walkers,” Kalamaras said, and not necessarily at every elementary school. “They are scheduled for specific posts,” he said, like Fern Street near Sherman School or Melville Avenue and Fairfield Woods Road for Stratfield School.
Crossing guards work two shifts each day, at the start and end of the school day. “The shifts run about an hour,” Kalamaras said, and guards get paid $25 per shift, or $50 a day.
“If we could, we would put them at every school,” Kalamaras said, “but with budgetary constraints, we have to look at where the busy intersections with the most walkers are.”
The crossing guards have a pecking order based on seniority, and should a full-time post open up, it would be offered to one of the alternates first before a new guard is hired. “The jobs stay pretty well filled,” Kalamaras said
The alternates, Kalamara said, fill in when a full-time guard can’t make it. The coordinator also fills in and conducts inspections — making sure the crossing guards are wearing the vests and gloves, and using the stop sign provided to them.
Bad weather only means they don’t have to work if school ends up being canceled. They do get flourescent rain coats to wear during inclement weather.
“The job is filled usually by retirees looking for an extra source of income, working for a short time during the day,” Kalamaras said.
In 2011, however, the town faced a shortage of crossing guards at the start of the school year. When that happened, police officers were used to fill in where needed until enough people were hired.