Sunnyvale CA Nov 30 2016 The city of Sunnyvale will use a third party company to staff 38 intersections with crossing guards, a move that comes after city officials tried for more than a year to find enough people to take the job.
The city council signed off on a plan Nov. 15 that will pay $540,553 annually to All City Management Services to hire crossing guards and staff intersections near schools.
City officials have been trying hard to hire more guards and keep them on staff. The council voted in December to give veteran crossing guards a 7 percent pay increase. Entry-level pay was boosted to $13.50 and veteran pay was raised 7 percent from $14.50.
Sunnyvale Capt. Shawn Ahearn told the council at the Nov. 15 meeting that of the city’s 45 crossing guard positions, only 32 are filled, with just one new hire this year. The city advertised the need for more crossing guards on Facebook, Twitter, Nixle and Nextdoor; through the school districts and the senior center; and during “Coffee with a Cop” events.
Ahearn said that since January last year, Sunnyvale was able to hire five guards. However, the city has since lost eight guards since February this year. Council members and city officials have said over the past year that the gap in between morning and afternoon crossing guard shifts made it difficult to find people available to take on both shifts.
All City Management Services will provide crossing guards to staff the city’s needs as well as provide routine training and handle workers’ compensation. Current crossing guards with the city will be notified of the change and will have first right of refusal. Those who choose to continue will be hired by ACMS for 60 days and will then be evaluated based on the needs of the company and physical requirements of the job.
ACMS will also take over paying crossing guards, who will see a significant pay bump to $29.66 per hour. The contract begins Jan. 1 and will run through Sept. 20, at which time the city manager can renew it for up to four years, according to city staff.
Councilman Jim Griffith expressed concern about the cost of the contract and the long-term effect it could have on the city budget. City staff members argued that the move could save money as Department of Public Safety officers—paid at a higher wage than crossing guards—were sometimes filling in as crossing guards when the city didn’t have enough people to cover all of the intersections.
“My preference is to keep jobs as city employees; however, I think we’ve made a very good effort to make the current model work,” said Vice Mayor Gustav Larsson. “We’ve run into a number of challenges, and I’m glad to see the crossing guards will get a pay increase through this contract and have right of first refusal and receive consistent training.”
Ahearn added that All City Management Services had received good references from other agencies using its services.