Crossing Guard Outsourcing
  • A number of S.O. Crossing Guards spoke last night during the public comment portion of the Board of Trustees Meeting. They are attempting to keep the public's attention on the issue of outsourcing.

    As a member of the public pointed out, hiring an outside firm is false economy. The outsourcing company is not going to get reliable employees at lower wages to travel early to South Orange in snow, cold, heat and rain. Anyone who has to hire employees these days knows that it is almost impossible to get people who will dependably show up.

    Besides being residents, it appears a good number are tax paying property owners and only five are even eligible for insurance and it sounds as if not all of the five use it.

    Sorry to say, but this is another dividend from the folks who brought us New Jersey Transit Parking (as opposed to Village Ownership), SOPAC (without a feasibility study and plan) and the removal of so many properties from the tax rolls. Other dividends include no fireworks, no sidewalk bulk pick-ups, years of delay in repairing the library roof and vacancies on the police and fire department rosters.

    What to do?

    Small picture: Keep our Crossing Guards.

    Big Picture First Step: Use whatever pressure we have (Calling Dick Codey!) to have New Jersey Transit convey the Transit Lot to the Village after disbanding the
    Parking Authority. Second Step: Explore as to whether the PILOT deal on the condominiums being built on Vose behind Garden of Eden can be voided since the original plan and purpose of the PILOT appears to have been wandered away from; Third Step: Explore imposing Taxes on all vacant lots on South Orange Avenue equal to what would be owed as if they were already developed. That would give some incentive to actually complete the improvements or to sell to someone who will; and Fourth Step: Start selling Village owned properties at market rates and without PILOTS.
  • I think it's terrible what the town is doing to our crossing guards and am surprised there isn't more uproar on MOL. I'm all for trimming government spending, but there seem to be plenty of other areas that could go first. What about our village administrator's publicly-funded car? What's the cost to run these ethically dubious traffic stings?

    The town throws money at lots of things and targeting the nice people who keep our kids safe seems like picking on the group least able to fight back.
  • The town isn't doing anything to the crossing guards yet. They're having a discussion about ways to cut costs.

    BTW - outsourcing isn't the bogeyman. It is quite possible that these same crossing guards could be offered positions with the new company if the village decides to go that route.

    Additionally, the traffic "stings" are often made possible by special grants and not from village coffers.
  • The Village President has announced that the several proposals have been received and I suspect the guards will be outsourced unless the citizens strenuously let the government know that this is unacceptable.

    If the "silver lining" is having the present guards hired by the outside provider, then one has to wonder how much profit the provider will be making while having the guards perform their old jobs at lower compensation.

    If terminating present employees and hiring them back through the outside provider is really a good idea, then perhaps we could try firing the Village Administrator. He could then be hired by the provider and get back to work at less pay. Does that make sense? Do you like that concept? I didn't think so.

    Many of the guards are Village property tax payers. I'm sure that most of the new hires will not be and if the owner of the provider happens to own property in town, then he/she/it will be paying tax on one property. We should try to keep our money in the Village.

    If we outsource and the new employees don't show up, they will (hopefully) be fired. In the meantime, South Orange Police Officers will have to cover the crossings for that day as happened in Maplewood. Doesn't that constitute a cost and a public safety burden?

    Could any of the Trustees who post on MOL give a breakdown of the present cost and anticipated savings? I know you are busy, so post it within the next week when you have an opportunity to do so.

    Is the fact that five guards are eligible for health insurance the tipping point?

    Can the names (not the financial terms) of the providers who submitted proposals be disclosed? That should not confidential as long as the terms are not disclosed. Is New Community Corp. one of the proposers?
  • This Village is facing some financial challenges, we all need to do our part of overcome them. If it takes cutting back some of the services or keeping the services, but within an outsourcing model then its in all of our interests to into it. What people are forgetting is, that if we make this village to expensive to live in then we all loose. The BOT (who do not get paid for their time) will have to pay the increase of taxes just like everyone else. It is in all of our best interests to look at EVERYTHING and be willing to sacrifice. If it is shorter hours withing a dept, cutting back some Non-essential services, closing a rarely utilized art gallery, then we need to look at it without being bashed for the ideas. There should be nothing we don't look at Except Public Safety Groups. News 12 featured a story about a town in NJ that increased it's employee's work hours to 10 a day and is closed its doors on Friday. This could be an idea that might save money and the environment by not using extra energy.
  • Posted By: goldstecThere should be nothing we don't look at Except Public Safety Groups.

    I would think that crossing guards provide public safety, no? I do not think outsourcing these positions is a responsible decision. Close Pierro, cut funding to any and all non-essential groups, reduce top-heavy administrative staff in village hall (assistant to the VA comes to mind), etc. I'm leery about outsourcing the positions that ensure the safety of our children walking to and from school, the pool, etc.
  • I thought that the village was going to outsource the crossing guard function to a call center in Bangalore.
  • IIRC, aren't our school cafeteria's outsourced? These people ensure the safety of the food our children consume on a daily basis. We can trust an outsourced company to feed our kids, but not one that will escort them across 40 feet of pavement?
  • Does anyone know the hourly average rate the village is paying crossing guards, and how many hours they work? It might be interesting to see what the pay scale is now and compare it to what a private company would pay. My hunch is that we are not paying these people very much and that outsourcing them would probably be small savings.

    What I think is necessary is that someone evaluates how many crossing guards are truly needed and how many are not. I know we have one on our corner who maybe crosses 3 children (of middle/high school age) across a not very busy intersection. When bus routes change (and the bus stop close to this corner has been eliminated) the child pedestrian traffic changes as well and this should be considered.

    One issue I do have with a particular crossing guard at Prospect/Montague is that he sits in his car behind a giant shrub in the OLS parking lot and never sees my child until she is already across the street. Prospect is very busy at 8:15 in the morning and I feel that if we are going to pay someone to cross children across a major thoroughfare that they should move theirself out of their car and stand on the corner so they can see the kids before they get across the street. I also think that since the return bus usually arrives between 3:40 and 3:45, that this person remain at his station until 3:45, or until the bus arrives to cross the kids back over Propsect.
  • I would also love to see the cost breakdown and what's saved by outsourcing. That seems like it should be public knowledge.

    BTW, why is town leadership ignoring the fact it failed in Maplewood?
  • The guard at Garfield and Radel is brutal. She sits there in her car every morning. How can she be doing her job from inside her car? And this morning she sat there on a cell phone!
  • Yeah, I'm not happy with ours either.
  • Posted By: peter_wattsI would also love to see the cost breakdown and what's saved by outsourcing. That seems like it should be public knowledge.

    BTW, why is town leadership ignoring the fact it failed in Maplewood?


    I know that several people have requested this information above & elsewhere. Certainly, the current costs of the hourly rate and benefits provided to these Part-Time employees are Public Information, but please keep in mind that negotiations are still ongoing between the Village and the Union that represents the Crossing Guards which limits the amount of other information that can (and should) be shared publicly at this time.
  • But that should be info that whoever is making this decision is privy to.


    Since the issue has come up, why not figure out how many guards are actually needed, how many are no longer needed, and which of the ones who are needed are doing a good enough job that the village should keep them. Seems there are quite a few comments about crossing guards who are just collecting a check for sitting in their cars chatting on their cell phones, as well as places where there just aren't enough kids crossing to justify the expense.
  • Now if that ain't the Truth!! :bigsmile:

  • While some information must be kept confidential because of ongoing negotiations. I believe there is nothing improper in disclosing the amount of difference between the current cost of the crossing guards program and the lowest proposal received (without disclosing the identity of the proposer). One of persistent faults of the Calabrese years was that nothing could be revealed before the deal was sealed because EVERYTHING was supposedly in negotiation ALL OF THE TIME. We should be given an idea of the amount of money we are talking about saving.

    Jeff Bryant, thank you for taking the time for your "I dunno". While I appreciate your effort in speaking for the Trustees, I would like to hear from the decision makers themselves as to the factors involved. Once again,
    during the Calabrese years, citizens always assumed they knew what the Trustees were evaluating only to find later that they were mistaken; i.e. assuming a feasibility study for SOPAC, performance penalties for uncompleted construction, etc...

    I may be incorrect, but I understand that insurance eligibility is only among five of the more than 20 crossing guards and that is based on the number of years serving. Remember, if you are a crossing guard, you really can't have another day job because you are on duty twice every school day. Insurance is a reward for long time service. The Village has rewarded long time service in the past among the rescue squad volunteers.
    If I am mistaken, then please advise.

    If insurance is a significant factor with the guards, let us know the amount of money involved. If the insurance is that significant, then, as Goldstec suggested, we should look at all avenues of saving and outsourcing may make perfect sense. An insurance analysis should also include as to whether any municipal employees have double coverage (through their spouses). If there are, then it may make sense for some of these employees to drop their Village coverage.

    Remember, informed decisions require information.
  • One more datapoint: The guard at the top of West End is excellent, and would be a real loss if outsourced (the replacements we get when he is out are not nearly as good).
  • Posted By: truthWhile some information must be kept confidential because of ongoing negotiations. I believe there is nothing improper in disclosing the amount of difference between the current cost of the crossing guards program and the lowest proposal received (without disclosing the identity of the proposer).


    For that last part, the other proposers would surely then know just where they stodd in the negotiations however, assuming they weren't the lowest bidder. Defeats the purpose of a sealed bid, no? It isn't an auction I hope. But I do agree with your overall point.
  • As far as I am concerned, no amount of savings is acceptable when our children's safety is at hand.
  • So should the village not look for ways to operate more efficiently (and save money) in the police dept., fire dept., or, heaven-forbid, with crossing guards because some villagers mistakenly equate that into a compromise with safety?

    You may want to push through an ordinance to replace the volunteer rescue squad with paid professionals because, obviously, they'll also provide a safer village for you and your village.

    The crossing guards - I'm sure - are nice enough people, but please don't dress them in a tight fitting suit with a cape and pretend that they have some sort of super-powers.
  • Posted By: SO RefugeeSo should the village not look for ways to operate more efficiently (and save money) in the police dept., fire dept., or, heaven-forbid, with crossing guards because some villagers mistakenly equate that into a compromise with safety?

    You may want to push through an ordinance to replace the volunteer rescue squad with paid professionals because, obviously, they'll also provide a safer village for you and your village.

    The crossing guards - I'm sure - are nice enough people, but please don't dress them in a tight fitting suit with a cape and pretend that they have some sort of super-powers.




    I'm not sure how the rescue squad fits into anything. If the point of this exercise was to save money, we would hope all departments were volunteer. So, if anything, we want more groups like the rescue squad.

    And I don't think anyone has painted crossing guards as anything more than they are - people who make sure kids stay safe when getting to school.
  • Historically outsourcing crossing guards has been equated to comrpomising safety. And yes they should look for other frivolous spending to cut, such as tree lighting, letting beifus get away with everything, making employees contribute to health benefits, i can go on.
  • Posted By: peter_wattsAnd I don't think anyone has painted crossing guards as anything more than they are - people who make sure kids stay safe when getting to school.


    Often times from the comfort of a lounge chair or the front seat of their car...
  • Ctrzaska, you are most certainly correct if a formal RFP was issued. I was under the impression that the Trustees received informal proposals. A very rough estimate of the cost differential would not compromise the informal proposal process but would let us know what the ballpark figure is.

    If a RFP was issued, then I hope it was not in the form that the Village must go to contract with the qualifying entity with the lowest bid. This might very well make the question of the Trustees considering the matter moot.

    (By the way, the only, and they are very few, comments I have heard regarding the outsourced cafeteria workers are negative. If anyone else has observations or comments on this, perhaps you could start a new discussion on that point.)
  • Like many of the other posters here, I agree that many of the people are friendly and good at their job. That being said, why should the taxpayers of the village be paying so much more for a service that hasn't changed. The amount of schools hasn't changed, The amount of crosswalks hasn't changed, The streets have not changed. What has changed is the amount we need to feed to the paychecks. There is nothing wrong with this being looked at. I did not hear anyone say that people will be loosing their jobs. The guards provide an important service, but if someone calls in sick or hurt, The backup is our already over burdened police force. Let's really look at this objectively. If done properly and well planned this could work out to be a win win. Its not time to play politics, its time to see the BOT unite and work on a plan to get the village out of this financial challenge we are in...

    Bets- I agree with you that we need to cut where we can. I think cutting some non profits would be great, but that causes all sorts of uproar on so many levels. Village hall has pretty much been cut to a point that you can't cut back to much more. We need to make some sacrifices somewhere, but it seems that everyone has an item that for some reason cant be touched. I was chastised when i mentioned we not spend 100k on an art gallery that gets rarely used. That's 100k, its a lot of money.
    It would be great to get more business into this town. I am sure main street is trying to do what they can with what they have. It would be so nice to have a row full of new and unique stores going up SO Ave towards the Rite Aid, it just doesnt seem to be going that way. I wish we could sell SOPAC and make it profitable as well....
  • The crossing guards are making 20 dollars an hour for 4 hours of work a day and are also getting full medical and full pension benefits. As much as I would love to keep are crossing guards I think it todays economic climate we might not be able to keep that up. They will get first dibs on the position if they are outsourced.

    Yes would I love to see SOPAC not funded but that is not going to happen right now. The idea of Pierro being closed was also floated around but a number of the board members did not feel that was the correct thing to do.

    I agree with SORef and Goldsec on this one. (Oh good I have agreed with Goldsec on a number of things lately what is happing to me?):wink:
  • Are they really making $20 an hour/$400 a week plus medical and pension?? That seems a bit much for the work they are doing (or not doing). If the village is going to pay someone $400 a week, there should be enough foot traffic to justify the expense. Also, there should be a bit more quality control, with regard to the crossing guards being required to stand at their post, rather than hang out in their cars (I know many of these people are old, so I have no issue with them sitting in a chair on their corner)

    I don't think that child safety will be noticably different if there is outsourcing or not. Most of the little ones are crossed by a parent anyway - I can't imagine an outsourced guard letting small children be endangered because they are only making $12/hour.
  • Sounds like the package offered at Starbucks. Surely crossing guards merit as much as a barista, no?

    truth - I have a problem with informal proposals given they lead to varied interpretations of service delivery on BOTH sides... better to know what you're getting and for what cost(s) without the potential for the exploitation of loopholes. To my knowledge an RFP can be structured in such a way as to not require acceptance of simply the lowest bid... I would hope that if they do elect to look at this further and choose that route they provide themselves some flexibility over the decision and not make it merely a numbers game.
  • The crossing guard at South Orange Avenue by Wyoming (mushroom house cross-walk) is excellent. She knows the kids & keeps tabs on them. I see plenty around town who sit in their cars, but I see some who are excellent.
  • The problem is money and that many of the crossing guards just aren't that good. Many of them are elderly and would rather be seated comfortably in their cars than standing most of the time. Ours, as noted before, is mess as a guard, but a nice guy. He delays his stop sign, cars are blowing at him and I don't trust my children crossing when he's at the helm. Is that good? He's just not with it and I've complained on several occassions. Mr. Kibbegirl tells me to leave him alone because his job as crossing guard is probably the only thing that gets him up in the a.m., but to hell with that theory! I don't want my children to be hit by a car! This guard sits in his car and basically allows children to cross on their own. That crosswalk at Grove Road and Turrell Avenue is treacherous! I've helped many children across on my own with no help from him. I don't even think he realizes there were children there waiting for him to help them!

    Perhaps some type of an evaluation should be done to see who's still good out there, but then there's still the money problem. I don't care if you're a nice man or woman, what I care most about is that our children can get cross safely without being injured or worse.
  • Do these crossing guards go through any kind of competency testing? Its easy to tug at the heartstrings by claiming "its for the safety of the kids." If that's true, then what is being done to insure that safety? Do they have standards for the job? Vision, age, training, etc.

    I see the crossing guard at Ridgewood and South Orange Avenue directing traffic sometimes, and I find it more of a hazard than following the lights, and that is with no kids in sight. So what is that about? Some of the guards are good, but without standards, the system is not great.

    And how about vacation and holidays? How many do they get? Does it coincide with school vacations? Or do they get their vacation when they want AND get off and paid when school is closed as well? There are lots of questions that bear answering.
  • That a good question -- what about competency and vision/hearing testing? I'm sure it will cause an uproar, but when standing in the middle of the street directing traffic and children, one should be able to see and hear clearly and have good reflexes.
  • bottom line this outsourcing deal has nothing to do with putting the kids in harms way. Its about trying to put the village back on financial track. BOT wont do anything to harm our kids, lets be real here. the whole idea is to look at what is dragging the village down in terms of money... Some of the BOT members should be applauded for making tough decisions and not doing what looks good.
  • As much as I agree that everything should be looked at, I strongly doubt crossing guards are where the bulk of the fat is in the budget. Even if all crossing guards were eliminated, how much would it really save?
  • Agree Rastro, but it takes little bit here little bit there etc...
  • And you've got $19.70 in savings per year. Don't sweat the small stuff.
  • Yes will i see you there
  • I thought everyone might like to hear that at a Special Meeting of the BOT last night, we agreed to reject the proposal from the outsourcing vendor and agreed to accept a Memorandum of Understanding between the Village and the Union for the Crossing Guards. This agreement retains the current crossing guards and accepts numerous "givebacks" from the Union, which saves the Village significant money. While I didn't agree with all of the provisions, I think it was a fair compromise which seems to be a win-win for everyone. Further details will likely be in the News Record tomorrow.
  • Thanks Michael for posting - this is, in my opinion, good news. Hopefully yhe provisions you didnt like weren't too too bad.
  • What does this all mean? Our guard was not great at all. Will he stay? Will I continue to play interim guard at the corner of Turrell and Grove Roads when school begins?
  • Kibbe - we live in the neighborhood, although our kids are not school age yet, we have heard great things about the guard that works that corner, a former marine or something like that. Unless he has since been changed. Just wondering what you have experienced.
  • Posted By: SO RefugeeBTW - outsourcing isn't the bogeyman. It is quite possible that these same crossing guards could be offered positions with the new company if the village decides to go that route.


    I realize this is late, but how would the town or the school district save money if not by paying people less? It doesn't matter who signs the check.
    Post edited by Tom Reingold at 2008-08-06 12:08:55
  • I've posted before that our guard is a great guy. Unfortunately, he was sick a few years ago and IMO, never fully recovered from his illness. His relfexes are extremely slow. He causes traffic back ups; he puts out his stop sign too late causing cars to screech to a stop; he'll sit in his car while children are waiting on the corner(s) to be crossed. It's saddens me and upsets me all at once. I'm not an advocate for anyone losing their job w/out cause, but there has to be some type of assessment done before an accident occurs.
  • I hope that the agreement with the guards includes:
    1. Significant contribution to healthcare costs
    2. No paid time off when school is closed unless that is when they choose to take their accrued vacation days.
    3. Competency testing at least every 2 years for aged 60 and over. Every 5 years for under 60.
    4. Background checks.

    And they need to stop the whining about it being all about the kids. Its not.
  • jayjay - i agree with your points, just curious, not attacking, who else is it about if not the kids? arent they why we have the crossing guards?
  • I don't believe 100% it's about the kids. I'm more concerned with my child's safety when crossing than keeping someone who is having trouble doing his/her job. It's a wonderful thing when the children are comfortable with the guards and the parents know them. But it's quite a different story when the guards use it's "all about the kids" to keep their jobs when we all know, many should no longer have them.
  • I believe the only response the Village received to its RFP was from the same company which was fired by Maplewood when it tried outsourcing. The same company has it hands full now having just received the contract to replace the Newark Housing Authority security guards.

    For anyone who is interested, the vacation pay (for the period between the end of school and the start of school) is / was a flat payment of $300.00.
  • Do school crossing guards get health care insurance? If so, I would like to know why. The crossing guard position is part time. In New Jersey, you do not need to provide health care insurance for part time employees. Some year ago, a friend of ours was a Maplewood Crossing Guard. On the last day of school each year she and numerous colleagues of hers would go to the Social Security office and file for unemployment which they were entitled to at the time. Does this still happen? My friend has retired and moved away so I cannot ask her. Thanks, b

  • I hope whoever is in charge of the crossing guards and their assignments learns how to pick up the phone and call the M/SO school district to learn where the majority of children are, and adjust the locations accordingly. Busy streets near schools would seem to be a no-brainer, school bus stop streets would (seem) to be another. But when the bus stops change, shouldn't the guard position also be looked at? And as children move up and out (to middle/high school or out of district) and the population shifts, shouldn't someone somewhere think, gee, maybe we no longer need a crossing guard on a street that HAS NO CHILDREN NEEDING THE SERVICES.
  • Posted By: Tom Reingold
    Posted By: SO RefugeeBTW - outsourcing isn't the bogeyman. It is quite possible that these same crossing guards could be offered positions with the new company if the village decides to go that route.


    I realize this is late, but how would the town or the school district save money if not by paying people less? It doesn't matter who signs the check.


    Tom,

    Of course it's moot at this point, but here's my two cents regarding your question:

    (1) The guards may have been required to take a reduction in pay and/or been required to make contributions to their benefits.

    (2) Some of the guards could have been made offers - the ones the village wanted to keep watching over our kids - and others could have been replaced at a reduced rate.
  • Posted By: jayjaypDo these crossing guards go through any kind of competency testing? Its easy to tug at the heartstrings by claiming "its for the safety of the kids." If that's true, then what is being done to insure that safety? Do they have standards for the job?
    I have to agree.
    One near us scared me to death more than occasionally by jumping out into traffic and expecting everyone to screech to an instant halt. She eventually got hit (but is OK now).
    The obvious danger to herself and the kids aside, I worried about what sort of example she was setting.

    It made me wonder if they had been given any sort of training for the job or whether they had just been thrown in to figure it out on their own.
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