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Despite Tecumseh postponing a decision to eliminate crossing guards, some residents still worry about council’s plan — and that new safety measures won’t provide the same level of protection. 

The town is proposing to replace the crossing guard program with new traffic signals, signage, reduced speed limits, and ladder crosswalks in school and community safety zones. 

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“I don’t believe flashing lights are going to be as effective or as caring as a human,” said Jillian Butler, a local resident whose kids, Jack 9, and Joyce, 13, attend St. Pius Catholic Elementary School on Lacasse Boulevard.

“There are day cares, latchkey programs, and special needs students those measures are not going to be able to help those individuals in the way a human can.”

Administration was directed this week to hold information sessions with the school boards and the schools affected by the changes.

Over the next few years, the town will assess service at its current crossing guard locations — St. Thomas Street at Michael Drive, St. Thomas Street and Lesperance Road, Arlington Boulevard and Tecumseh Road, and Lacasse Boulevard at Clapp Street and St. Thomas Street. 

Jillian Butler and her children
Jillian Butler and her kids Jack, 9, and Joyce, 13, are shown near St. Pius Catholic Elementary School in Tecumseh on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Butler is concerned about the possibility of crossing guard services being eliminated in the town. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

“I’m not taking it (council’s deferred decision) as a loss, but I’m not sure that I believe they’re going to re-evaluate it,” said Grade 7 student Joyce Butler. “I had a lot of faith in this, but now I feel pretty discouraged and disappointed I thought our voice was going to be heard.”

Two crossing guards at D.M. Eagle Public School between Tecumseh Road and Estate Park will be phased out in June with the school’s closure. It will be replaced by the new Beacon Heights Public School, however it will not have designated crossing guards. 

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The town employs seven full-time and four alternate crossing guards at six of the 11 elementary schools. The cost of running the program is about $112,000 per year.

“Our crossing guard has been doing this for 19 years,” said Butler. “They know these children and have made a positive impact in their lives in addition to helping traffic move.”

It could take at least two years to implement the proposed safety measures and phase out the crossing guards, if council decides to do so. 

“It’s not Tecumseh’s fault that we have bad drivers, but it is their responsibility during those two hours a day to make sure our kids are safe,” said Butler. “I’m not against the new safety measures, but I am against them getting rid of the human element.”

Crossing guard Lyn Symons
Lynn Symons, a crossing guard for 19 years, works near St. Pius Catholic Elementary School in Tecumseh on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara did not return a call from the Windsor Star in time for the paper’s mid-day print deadline Wednesday.

But Mackenzie Vandenberg, the town’s communications officer, said all crossing guards are there to stay for the time being.

“Each of the crossing guard sites will be re-evaluated and reassessed,” Vandenberg said. “They will do the analysis and look at the data, implement any new safety measures that they can and then every single corner will be brought back to council with all those findings.”

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