Lindenhurst school intersecting positions will not be cut, despite shortages of guards, Suffolk officials say

Suffolk County officials acknowledged there is a shortage of guards crossing schools, but said no crossing posts will be eliminated, after a “miscommunication” prompted the Lindenhurst district to inform students and parents earlier this week that some intersections would not be covered.

“There was some miscommunication in the email that went out to the school districts from the police,” County Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), the minority leader, said in a Newsday interview Tuesday. “It could have been worded better. But one thing is quite clear. … We are not removing any of the intersecting sentries.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone reiterated this position on Tuesday, noting that no existing positions will be eliminated.

“There is a shortage of crossing guards. So they have been filled up by officers when that is the case,” Bellone said. “It’s something we’re aware of and working on. But there are no positions that are not being filled.”

The reaction from county officials came the day after Lindenhurst school principal Daniel Giordano wrote in a letter Monday that most high school positions, as well as those that are too far away from schools or that had significantly reduced student numbers, should be eliminated Nov. 15. .

“They have explained that by doing so, it will enable the area to ensure adequate postal coverage at the primary and secondary school level,” the principal wrote, referring to the department’s first precinc.

Police said they are reviewing crossing posts, but “no crossing has been eliminated.”

“There is no significance for November 15,” police said in an email statement Tuesday. “No crossings will be eliminated on that date.”

Lindenhurst school district officials did not respond to a request for an interview Tuesday. Police did not respond to a Newsday request to comment on what the legislature characterized as “miscommunication.”

The police department, which employs cross-guards as civilian workers, is urging people to apply.

The county has 471 jobs and lacks about 60 workers, according to the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees, which represents crossing guards.

As of this summer, there were 487 working shifts, of which 433 were permanent and 54 temporary, the union figures showed.

The vacancies used to be “single digits and not every day,” said Daniel Levler, president of the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees. “Now we are double-digit every day.”

Levler said the union is in talks with the county administration about a solution because putting officers in intersecting guard posts removes them from responding to emergencies or patrolling for public safety.

“Not an efficient use of taxpayers’ resources,” he said.

It is unclear how big a role, if any, the pandemic played in the shortage of guards, as it did in other labor shortages, including in the school bus driver industry.

Trade union officials point to the nature of the cross-guard job – low pay, scattered hours and no benefits for certain workers – as part of the difficulty in attracting and retaining workers.

“This is a very unique job,” Levler said. “Two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon, low pay that is calculated annually so that your actual paycheck stays low. And the only trade-off there is, in fact, full-time health insurance. So it’s not an ideal job for everyone.”

In Suffolk, the starting salary for crossing guards is $ 14.07, an hourly rate that will rise to $ 15 on January 1st. Permanent positions provide health benefits when the shift works 17.5 hours per week. Substitutes, however, do not receive health benefits.

In Nassau, starting pay is $ 28 for full-time shifts (those who work 20 hours a week) and $ 25 for part-time employees (those who work up to 17 hours a week), it said. Lieutenant Richard LeBrun, a spokesman for Nassau’s police department, in texts.

LeBrun said Nassau police have 419 guards and 398 crossings. Each intersection may have one guard or more, depending on the intersection.

LeBrun said the department always hires, but he did not answer questions about the number of vacancies and whether the hiring was for part-time jobs only.

“It’s hard to keep someone in a part-time job in this economy with up to 17 hours a week and $ 25 an hour,” said Ron Gurrieri, president of Nassau’s CSEA Local 830.

Gurrieri said he does not know the extent of the shortage of staff in Nassau, but that there are vacancies. “When we still have officers crossing, then of course there are still vacancies,” he said.

County Director Laura Curran’s office did not respond to questions about vacancies on Tuesday.

However, the shortage of guards may be limited to certain school districts.

There does not currently appear to be a shortage of school district guard guards across the island, according to Tonie McDonald, president of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents, and Yiendhy Farrelly, president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association.

McCaffrey said Suffolk County will increase recruitment efforts.

“It is a three-pronged effort to immediately ensure that we fill these positions,” the legislature said. “Second, we want to hire. Third, we need to take a long-term review of how many positions we need and when we need them.”


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