This Shawnee Mission elementary wants Roeland Park to help pay for school crossing guard — here’s why

Roesland crossing guard

A letter from the principal of Roesland Elementary recently asked parents and families at the school to contact elected officials in Roeland Park, urging them to support funding a crossing guard at the busy crosswalk on Parish Drive outside the school, above. The city is expected to take up the matter at its January meeting. Photo credit Juliana Garcia.

Roesland Elementary School in Roeland Park is seeking community help to get a city-funded crossing guard.

Principal Kelly Swift sent a letter to parents last week asking them to contact Roeland Park elected officials to support paying for a crossing guard outside the school.

Swift wrote in the newsletter that the crosswalk on Parish Drive, directly in front of the school, is a focus area of improvement for safety for school officials.

While the letter states Swift previously reached out to Roeland Park about a crossing guard, the city suggested using the flashing crosswalk signal and creating a “no parking zone.”

This is a 20-foot-long blocked-off section on Parish Drive that aims to create visibility of the crosswalk for northbound drivers, Swift wrote.

The issue isn’t just student safety, though, it’s also finding staff members to volunteer as crossing guards during arrival and dismissal. Swift wrote the school doesn’t “have the manpower to sustain this new process.”

“We are already extremely tight on school personnel during these high traffic times,” Swift wrote. “With this new plan, we are having to add two additional people to follow the protocols that the city has suggested.”

City Administrator Keith Moody said he, Swift, the city public works director, chief of police and traffic engineer met on Nov. 8 to discuss traffic safety at the school.

Moody said the traffic engineer observed drop-off prior to the meeting, and suggested “the pedestrian flashing signals be used by everyone using” the crosswalk during arrival and dismissal.

The “no parking zone” is in response to parked cars between the crosswalk and the entrance to the parking lot that are obscuring visibility, Moody said.

Roeland Park ordered and delivered the “no parking” signs last week, he said. The city also raised the pedestrian signs, he said, to make them more visible to drivers.

Moody said school officials were to remind students and parents to activate the crosswalk signals each time they use it, and to let parents know the reasoning behind the “no parking” signs.

Moody said he estimates a crossing guard will cost $22 an hour, though his research on the matter has been limited.

Roeland Park intends to observe the changes for 30 days, reconvene to share observations and discuss any potential changes, Moody said.

The Roesland Elementary newsletter states the crossing guard request is expected to be on a January city council meeting agenda.