AUSTIN (KXAN) — At Small Middle School in Southwest Austin, it’s Mr. Nelson to the rescue.
“It’s been going on like this for the better part of two years now,” said Nelson, as he held a stop sign and walked students across the street at the intersection of Straggerbrush Road and Monterey Oaks Boulevard.
“He cares about the kids, and we obviously need someone to do this,” said Keisha Tennefrancia.
Nelson said a full-time crossing guard worked the post before the pandemic, but they haven’t had one since.
At the beginning of the school year, 55 crossing positions still needed to be filled, according to the City of Austin. A spokesperson for the Public Works Department said they’ve “made great progress in hiring crossing guards since the start of the school year,” and have about a dozen spots left to fill – but that those “vacancies are through normal attrition.”
“I think it’s really unfortunate that we don’t have a crossing guard,” said Yasmine Anderson, a parent. Both she and Tennefrancia said they’re grateful for Nelson’s efforts and appreciate how he interacts with the students.
The crossing guard supervisor that covers Small retired, according to the city – and they hope to interview the applicants for the position next month.
“The safety of children getting to and from school is our main priority and we try to cover as many locations as possible,” a spokesperson told KXAN in an email. “When we’re unable to staff a location, we will always offer to provide volunteers or school staff with training and equipment to ensure their own safety.”
“We’ll bring you pie,” said Nelson.