A mother is taking it upon herself to find volunteer crossing guards for Westwood Elementary School.
Tiffany Gancos spoke to the board of education at its most recent meeting, explaining an increased need for guards and how she’s moving forward with the initiative.
Calling the program Safe Routes to School Wellington, she’s enlisted the help of police Lt. Jeff Shelton and numerous businesses. Shelton will handle background checks for any applicants before passing recommendations along to Gancos.
Donations from Farm & Home Hardware and Wellington Music have helped her acquire safety vests and flashlights.
Gancos, a resident with children at Westwood and McCormick Middle School, said there have never been crossing guards in front of Westwood. She said the need has increased in recent years due to cutbacks in busing and more parents dropping students off in their own vehicles.
“There’s no one guiding these kids and they’re crossing over pretty dangerous intersections,” she said. “The school told me there wasn’t money to do anything about it and said it was the village’s problem.”
She aims to enlist a total of five guards: two at Union Street and Sheila Drive, two at Union and Jones streets, and one at Union and Johns streets.
If you’d like to volunteer, applications can be picked up at Farm & Home, Wellington Music, the Wellington police station, DaNell’s Pizza, Elegant Designs In Bloom, and McDonald’s.
Applications must then be turned in at the police station. Once enough applicants step forward, a training class will be held for all of them at once.
A meeting with Shelton, Westwood principal Paul Holland, and superintendent Ed Weber laid down the basic framework of what Gancos is trying to accomplish.
“We looked at what’s been done in different school districts to identify what’s worked and what hasn’t,” she said. “Chagrin Falls has a program that works, a collaboration between parents, the schools, and the police department. That’s what we’re going to do here too.”
Another point of emphasis for Gancos is installing a reflective crosswalk at the corner of Union and Shelia and improving an existing one at Union and Jones.
“The kids have to cross illegally against non-stop traffic,” Gancos said. “There’s no sidewalk. There’s nothing. At Jones and Union there is a crosswalk but it needs a great deal of improvement. I don’t know if it was ever reflective but it isn’t anymore. You can’t see it at all in the dark.”
Shelton said he’s never seen crossing guards in front of Westwood during his 23 years in the village.
“I just ran the first background check for an applicant tonight,” he said. “This is coming at zero cost to the school or police department, which says a lot about the effort (Gancos) is putting into this. We have a lot more kids walking to school and being dropped off now. Busing started to be cut down back in the 90s.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.