Crossing guards rally at City Hall

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(PIX11) -- They are a welcome sight on the corner near NYC schools.

But the city is facing a crossing-guard shortage. Many workers say the seasonal employment and benefits prevent them from staying on the job.

Elected leaders and union officials are calling for increased funding in the next budget. There are 2,300 positions in the system.

Councilmember Helen Rosenthal says she has been requesting a crossing guard for the corner of 77th and Columbus for the past year.

The NYPD is in charge of assignments.

“School crossing guards are some of New York City's most essential workers – performing the invaluable task of keeping our kids safe as they travel to school – so it’s outrageous that we've been paying them poverty wages, capping their hours, and doing very little to protect the workers we trust to protect our children”, said Councilmember Brad Lander.

“School crossing guards are crucial to street safety around our schools, and Manhattan’s children are especially vulnerable because we have more unfilled crossing guard positions than any other borough,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “The city must act to fill existing vacancies, but we also need to raise guards’ pay and deploy additional guards through a data-driven process that includes teachers, parents, and Community Boards.”

“School crossing guards are the lifeblood of public safety for children and educators in our communities,” said Councilmember Vanessa Gibson. "Their headcount has remained low even as new school buildings have opened, enrollment has grown and Pre-Kindergarten options have expanded.”

“Our School Crossing Guards work through snow, rain and heat waves; crossing not only school children but their parents and pedestrians, said Shaun Francois, President of Local 372. “Our members work only 10 months out of the year and are forced to pay for their health insurance over the summer. It’s no wonder why NYPD has a difficult time filling these positions but it doesn’t help that these jobs are only posted in each station house. "

“The safety of everyone on our streets, but especially our children, is a top priority for this administration," said Wiley Norvell, the mayor's deputy press secretary. "We’re investing in life-saving measures like safer street designs, speed humps and speed enforcement cameras near our schools. We look forward to discussing the Council’s priorities throughout the budget process.”

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