HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Most school districts rely on crossing guards to help get students to and from school safely, but for the Hastings Area School System, it’s been a challenge to keep all those positions filled. 

“We have six crossings, intersections within Hastings City limits,” said district superintendent Matt Goebel. “We partner with Hastings Law Enforcement on that, so we budget some for the crossing guards and Hastings Police Department also budgets for crossing guards.”

The challenge, he explained, is finding the right people to fill those roles. 

“It is kind of a niche position. It’s roughly 30 to 45 minutes in the morning and 30 to 45 minutes in the afternoon, and typically it’s like retired folks that want to help out, but still, we’ve had some hard times trying to get people to apply for those positions.”

One intersection in particular, at S. Park and W. Grand streets near the middle school, currently does not have a crossing guard at all. Goebel said the position has been posted for nearly a year. He added that the district has made parents aware of this and provided alternative crossing zones. Some parents, however, have questioned why there are two guards at the intersection of W. Green and S. Broadway streets and why the district doesn’t move one to Park and Grand. There’s an easy answer to that. 

“The one that we have two crossing guards on is a state highway. It’s our busiest intersection in Hastings. We have more kids crossing at [Green and Broadway] than we do the other five intersections that we monitor,” Goebel explained. “We have had some reports of children almost getting hit and our crossing guard almost getting hit, so we felt like we needed to have two crossing guards at that point in time to make sure that they were safe.”

Goebel said he communicates weekly with the Hastings Police Chief Dale Boulter, who is also working towards safer solutions. Many of the intersections surrounding the schools are two-way stops rather than four, something Boulter is working to change. Monday night, the Hastings City Council approved his request to turn the intersection of Park and Grand into a four-way stop. 

Goebel said the district is also working to get a radar trailer, updated signage, and new paint for the crosswalks. He added that drivers carry a lot of responsibility as well.

“Just ultimately slow down. I think that that’s the big thing,” he advised. “We really make sure that on announcements every day that we are, are reminding high school students to slow down when they’re leaving school. You kind of have to be aware and slow down and take your time and be safe for these kids.”

If you think you’d be a good fit and are interested in applying for a crossing guard position with Hastings Area Schools, you’re encouraged to contact the district or request an application from the Hastings Police Department.