KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – In less than two weeks, Kingsport parents will send their children back to school.
But Kingsport police said staffing for a key job that keeps kids safe continues to be problematic. They said they not only have trouble filling school crossing guard spots, but also retaining them once those spots are filled.
“Obviously the safety of our children is of paramount importance to us,” said Kingsport Police Department Public Information Officer, Tom Patton.
The police department hires school crossing guards, who guide the way for students to get to school safely, but police said they have trouble keeping the roles fully staffed.
“At the end of last school year we had 3 vacancies, but we’ve already had some additional resignations since then,” Patton said.
Now, they’re relying on city schools and police department personnel to fill the gaps.
“A lot of times it’s going to be a staff member or an administrator that can be there,” said Kingsport City Schools Assistant Superintendent, Andy True.
“We would much rather those police officers be in a cruiser or actually patrolling the school zone for traffic violators,” Patton said.
Police and KCS are working to find a long term solution.
“Right now it’s looking like the most viable solution is going to be some sort of privatization with a third party staffing company,” Patton said. “That just means rather than the police department constantly trying to hire somebody or the schools constantly trying to hire somebody to fill vacancies, we would staff with a third party private company.”
Until then, both parties agree keeping students safe remains the number one priority.
Kingsport City Schools Assistant Superintendent Andy True also says they set aside $20,000 in their budget this year to have funding available if they decide to hire a third party to handle crossing guards.
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