Taylorsville PD always searching for more school crossing guardsMar 31, 2023 01:42PM ● By Carl Fauver
Taylorsville Police Crossing Guard Supervisor Chyrelle Fowers (L) and one of her 33 employees, Maryann Hagblom, keep students safe, five days a week. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
Every once in a while, we hear something and think, “Hmmm… I never knew that.” Sure, in some of those cases, perhaps lots of people DO already know it. But that doesn’t stop us from thinking, “hmmmm.”
Want a couple of examples? OK – first, were you aware Utah high schools now field complete girls’ wrestling teams, with 14 different weight classes? They’ve been around three years. Of course, thousands – maybe tens-of-thousands – of girls and their parents and relatives and coaches knew this. But did you?
Second, were you aware Granite School District employs all the teachers and lunch workers and bus drivers serving students attending their schools in Taylorsville – BUT, the district does not employ the crossing guards? Those duties fall to a civilian division of the Taylorsville Police Department. And before TVPD was formed 21 months ago, Unified Police Department coordinated those positions.
Now, a third question you may be asking yourself: “Why on earth would girls’ high school wrestling be mentioned in a story about school crossing guards?” That one’s easy. Meet Chyrelle Fowers.
“I have two parttime jobs – as the Taylorsville Police Crossing Guard Supervisor and as an assistant coach for the Copper Hills High School girls’ wrestling team,” Fowers explained. “I supervised the crossing guards back when they were under UPD. I was just carried over in the position when the Taylorsville Police Department formed. As for wrestling: my four sons wrestled, so I had been around it for years. Then my daughter wanted to do the same. Girls’ high school wrestling was established. And I was asked to help coach.
Come on – a “hmmm” or even a “wow” is floating in the back of your head right now.
Fowers had been a school crossing guard about 15 years before becoming the program supervisor in Taylorsville. She’s helped cross kids at every crosswalk the eleven schools have – about 30 of them. Right now, she has 32 crossing guards working under her. It’s a lot of pressure for a parttime gig, because every one of those crosswalks must be staffed, morning and afternoon, every school day.
“My guards have emergencies come up – or they get sick at the last minute – and I have to fill those slots,” Fowers said. “I have a substitute crossing guard list – but it doesn’t have as many names on it as I’d like. Of course, I can also go out to a crosswalk myself, and often do. But if my subs have all been asked – and I am already going to a crosswalk – then the police department has to send one of its regular officers to do it.”
Fowers says that doesn’t occur often – calling out a regular, sworn police officer to cover a crosswalk – but it happens. That’s why Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson went to bat for Chyrelle in one of her recent reports to the Taylorsville City Council.
“We are fully staffed now; but we are looking for a few more substitute crossing guards,” Overson told the council. “They are always looking for a few more qualified subs. Crossing guards provide a great value. They keep our school kids safe.”
City Councilwoman Anna Barbieri agrees, Taylorsville crossing guards may be overlooked by most of us – but they can be critically important to any given school kid on any given day.
“What a joyful job; what a difference you can make in a child’s life,” Barbieri said. “If a student has a rough day – and has a frown or a worried look when they reach the crosswalk – that guard might say just the right thing to make them feel better. What a great thing.”
Maryann Hagblom is one of a few Taylorsville crossing guards who routinely pull double duty. Each school day morning and afternoon she helps kids cross the busy streets outside Bennion Jr. High (2700 W. 6200 South) first, then she shifts a few blocks east to do the same outside Calvin Smith Elementary (2200 W. 6200 South).
“I’ve worked as a crossing guard about five years,” Hagblom said. “I enjoy seeing and helping the kids. And I also appreciate the extra money.”
Crossing guards are on duty 30-40 minutes a shift and earn $15.50. Because they cover a morning and afternoon shift, that’s $31 dollars a day – for less than 90 minutes of work. Of course, just like mail carriers or football players, crossing guards are required to show up and do their duty, no matter what Mother Nature is dishing out.
“Snow is not as bad as heavy rain or, even worse, high winds,” Hagblom concluded. “I’ve been much colder in 40 degrees with wind rather than 20 degrees and snow. But either way, if the kids are here, I will be, too.”
In addition to the weather, drivers also create challenges.
“It can sometimes be dangerous, because drivers don’t pay enough attention and they often don’t slow down,” Fowers added. “I have never been hit by a car. But there have been a few close calls. Since I have been crossing guard supervisor, only one of my guards has been hit – in the hand.”
Fowers reports one of their biggest problems is drivers turning right who roll up into and across the crosswalk. Primarily, she says drivers just need to pay closer attention when they enter a school zone.
If the weather and drivers haven’t scared you off, it’s easy to find the online application to become a substitute crossing guard on the city’s website (taylorsvilleut.gov). Applicants are interviewed and background checked before being hired.
“When we hire someone, first we take them through a power point presentation,” Fowers concluded. “It runs about 90 minutes, going through dangers and problems to look for, rules and requirements, when and where to show up, what to wear and what equipment to bring (spoiler alert: hand-held stop sign, traffic cone and fluorescent yellow vest).”
Overall, Fowers reports there is not a lot of turnover among her fulltime crossing guards. But they are always in need of a few more substitutes. She considers her job an “exciting challenge.” Perhaps not unlike competing or coaching in a relatively new sport – say, girls’ wrestling.