Hannah Ross doesn't have to walk to school at West Seneca East Middle. But the 12-year-old likes to.
“She's the first bus stop in the morning,” her mom, Diane Hoeber explained. “So, it's 7:20 AM and she's on the bus for over an hour. So she prefers to walk.”
There are no sidewalks on Hannah’s route, and it's a 45 mile per hour zone. Hannah’s mom said crossing guards are crucial. “If you go by that school in the morning, there are hundreds of cars, school buses trying to get in, and parents trying to get out. Those crossing guards keep animosity at bay.”
That’s why she was concerned to learn the town's considering eliminating them altogether. West Seneca Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan said students like Hannah are becoming fewer and farther between. She said a recent state mandate requiring bus transportation for every student means fewer walkers and less need for crossing guards.
The town is looking to possibly split the cost of the crossing guard program with the school district. Currently, it foots the bill and spends about $60,000 out of the annual budget. “With the property tax cap being .06% and not a solid 2.0%, every municipality faces that time when they need to look at their budget and scrutinize every single line,” Meegan added.
“What's her life worth? It's worth more than $60,000,” Hoeber said. “It's going to take something catastrophic before the town realizes those crossing guards are needed.”
Meegan said public safety is the town's top priority. There’s no word yet whether the district will help with the cost. Officials could meet as early as Monday to discuss the options.