by Winona Post Editor-in-chief Sarah Squires
I got hit by a truck once. Just lightly really; its rear-view mirror gave me a whack and knocked me over. I was in a crosswalk in downtown Winona, and the guy was at a stop sign. The only reason I wasn’t in front of his truck at the time is that I do what us safety ninnies do — I make sure that I’ve made eye contact with a driver before I cross in his or her path, because that’s what my mom taught me.
Moms are always right.
So is the mom who penned the letter to the editor just to the right of this. She’s watched her child cross Fifth Street in front of Jefferson Elementary School, without the assistance of a crossing guard to ensure her safety, all school year. She’s done what any mom would do in this situation — worry and act. She’s made sure that her daughter is getting across the street OK, and she’s pestered the district about this lack of crossing guards on one of the busiest streets any of our elementary fleet borders. And they’ve told her that while they are concerned about safety with the situation as well, they aren’t able to find anyone to cover these duties.
I am going to go ahead and restate what we’ve been told for many years is Winona Area Public Schools’ biggest problem, and what we’ve been told is the reason behind the front-page story today detailing its downgraded credit rating from Standard and Poors. We have too many warm bodies. We have too many staff people, we run things inefficiently because we have too many schools. Too many schools, too many adults working in them. Can you guess what I am getting at? How about we take one of those dozens of grown ups who work at Jefferson, strap them into a neon vest, and send them outside to make sure that kids don’t get hit by cars?
We have adults working in the kitchen. We have maintenance staff working on the buildings. We have school nurses and school administrators and school counselors and teachers and paraprofessionals and I am probably leaving someone out of this list, but I think I have uncovered a few dozen adults who could handle a stick with a stop sign on it for 15 or 20 minutes before and after school. Heck, every staff person in that building could take a day and we’d be set until summer.
I don’t think I am some sort of magical genius, coming up with all these solutions. I’m sure that there’s some argument out there about how this isn’t in so-and-so’s job description, but I think we can probably just get over that one. Every single person in Jefferson Elementary School is there to help kids learn and keep them safe. So let’s keep them safe.
And if the idea is that the role of crossing guard — which on any icy day may be the most important role ever played in the 80-plus year history of that school — must only be filled by a genuine volunteer, here you go: Any readers within our 24,000 household coverage area have a few minutes a day to help make sure that Jefferson students can cross the road to school safely? Give them a call, and don’t tell them Sarah sent you. Lisa, the good mom who has been trying really hard all year to get some action on this one — she sent you.