DALLAS (CBS11) – As the City of Dallas prepares to take back control of the school crossing guard program currently managed by Dallas County Schools, nearly 400 crossing guards are worried over potentially losing their jobs or even just their benefits.
“A lot of times we’re the first person they hear in the morning going across the street,” said Carolyn Henderson, who takes her responsibility ushering kids to safely to and from school seriously. “We step out first. We don’t let them go. We step our first. We put our lives first to make sure the traffic stops and then we get them across the street safely.”
When Henderson first started, Dallas police oversaw the crossing guard program, but in 2012 Dallas County Schools took over.
“I was surprised to learn we were getting attendance bonuses, we were getting paid holidays, and we were even offered insurance,” said Henderson.
A manager over the school guard program told CBS 11 News that for the first time in 10 years guards saw their wages go up, with some making nearly $14 an hour. They were also allowed to enroll in the state’s teacher retirement system — which made them eligible for a pension and life insurance.
According to the City of Dallas, the cost of running the program nearly doubled as a result of the change — pushing costs from about $2.4 million in 2011 to an estimated $4.2 million over the past several years.
“There are some people who really depend on the health insurance,” said Henderson, “A lot of them are working just for that.”
All of the crossing guards are part-time employees who work about 20 hours a week. They weren’t eligible for benefits when they were managed by the city.
One of the program’s four supervisors has already quit over worries that benefits will end, and Henderson says some of her colleagues may follow. “I would hate to have a child come up on the corner, didn’t see me, saw a stranger.”