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Cape looks to outsource school crossing guard services

By Staff | Jun 1, 2017

The Cape Coral Police Department is recommending the city have a private company take over its school crossing guard program, which officials say is the norm throughout the state.

The proposal, to be brought to City Council on Monday, is expected to save the city more than $65,000 per year, reducing the budget from $282,974 to $217,566.

According to a memo from Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan to City Manager John Szerlag, the city uses contract positions for the 18 crossing guards who work at school crosswalks.

Action Labor of Florida, which has provided the Lee County Sheriff’s Office with crossing guards since 2001, provided the city with a quote. If accepted, the city would save uniform and equipment costs, as well as salary expenses for hiring, training, meetings and supervision.

Newlan also said that over the past two school years, officers were called away 81 times to cover the crosswalks when guards were not available.

Action Labor has agreed to offer employment to the current guards, with pay at about $17 per hour, and Newlan said the private company would pay more and include travel time.

At least one crossing guard, who asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution, was not convinced, saying that the hourly wage increase would be offset by fewer hours.

“It’s like starting all over again. The years I put into the police department is thrown out the window and I think it’s rude,” the guard said. “We get no benefits, so it’s not like it’s killing anyone. We used to get more hours and they blamed everything on Obamacare and other things.”

The guard said he fears the proposal is a way to get rid of some of the guards, who then would be replaced with lesser-paid, less experienced guards, which could pose a danger to those they are paid to protect.

He said the guards were directed not to discuss the issue before Monday’s Council meeting and were told the details would be discussed between the guards and Staffing Connection following Council’s consideration of the proposal.

The proposal is on Council’s consent agenda, meaning the item will have to be pulled for it to be discussed and considered. Otherwise, it will be passed, or denied, with the other consent items in a single vote.

Other matters on Monday’s 4:30 p.m. meeting agenda:

– Proposed ratification of a tentative collective bargaining agreement between the city and members of the CCPD.

-Appointment of seven members and two alternates to the charter review commission.

– Consideration of two ordinances; to add “Sports Academy” to the land use classifications and to approve a change in zoning for a 10.57-acre tract at Entrada from multi-family residential to pedestrian commercial.

– Appointment of a member of Council to the Lee County Tourist Development Council for a two-year term.

– The setting of a public hearing date for removing Columbus Day as a designated city employee holiday and replacing it with Christmas Eve.