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Temporary Crossing Guards Added at Santa Monica High School

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

November 19, 2015 -- Four new crossing guards are temporarily posted at busy main streets near Santa Monica High School, a move meant to help bring order to a hazardous mix of drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and skateboarders during peak hours.

City officials agreed to the added crossing guards in response to a rising number of complaints from parents, officials said.

Stationed beginning on Monday at Michigan Avenue and 7th Street, the guards have made an immediate difference at the busy intersection, which is mired in congestion at tha start and end of the school day, some parents said.

“Just that little bit of intervention makes a lot of difference,” said Beth Leder-Pack, whose daughter is a Samohi junior.

The crossing guards are a temporary solution while City and Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) officials come up with a long-term plan, said Superintendent Sandra Lyon.

“We appreciate the temporary crossing guards while a permanent solution is considered,” Lyon said. “We have met with City and police department leaders to address parent safety concerns and have been assured that they are working diligently to come up with permanent solutions.”

With an enrollment of come 3,100 students, Samohi is by far the district’s largest school, with nearly triple the enrollment of Malibu High school, which is the second largest.

Some of the congestion problems at Samohi stem from the City’s “Safe Routes to School” program, which is meant, in part, to encourage students to bike or walk to school, officials said.

The changes are also designed to improve traffic flow and include making traffic one-way on Michigan Avenue west of Lincoln Boulevard and on 7th Street south of Michigan.

During the construction near Samohi, crossing guards were present and that seemed to help, Leder-Pack said.

But after the construction was complete, the crossing guards disappeared.

“There were zero,” said Gail Pinsker, a spokesperson for the District.

Leder-Pack was particularly critical of the Santa Monica Police Department, which she said rebuffed requests for more crossing guards.

“They said they didn’t have the budget for crossing guards,” she said.

A SMPD spokesperson did not respond by deadline to a request for comment.

The next fight for parents, Leder-Pack said, will be making the temporary crossing guards permanent. For now, Leder-Pack added, the existing guards will have to do.

“We’ll take what we can get,” she said.

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