By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Public Schools students went back to school Monday, many of them without the benefit of a school crossing guard.
More than a third of the crossing guard positions were eliminated because of budget cuts at the city.
It's a city funding issue, not the schools, because the crossing guards work for the City of Tulsa.
This year, the city eliminated crossing guards for middle schools, and for elementary schools, cut out all but one.
That has some worried about safety.
Every morning and afternoon, a school zone is active at 18th and 129th East Avenue. The signs help slow people down, and until this year, a crossing guard was there as well. This year, kids are on their own.
The children from a large neighborhood funnel across 129th to Cooper Elementary and Foster Middle School.
"The school is just around the corner, so this crosswalk is of major importance to our community and the families who live here," said Tami Cain, who is a concerned neighbor.
Some schools that used to have two or three crossing guards now only have one, and that leaves some busy locations without a crossing guard. Tulsa Campus Police are hoping parents help pick up some of the slack.
There's plenty of room to help because last year Tulsa had 84 school zones with a crossing guard. This year it's down to just 51.
"It is busy, it is hectic, we have to deal with not only the traffic, but also the busses," said Assistant Chief Dwight Jackson, TPS Campus Police.
TPS police hope parents can help retrain their children to get across without a guard.
"When the guard says OK, they just run, they never look to see if cars are coming," said Jackson. "So if we can get them back into the habit of stopping, looking both ways, make sure there's no traffic, that would help us a lot."
Campus police will not be working as crossing guards, but available to enforce traffic laws and help encourage drivers to slow down.
Tulsa Campus Police cannot yet issue tickets to drivers in schools zones, but they will be able to soon. For now, they're urging drivers and students to be extra careful around schools.
While Tulsa Public School students headed back to class for the new school year Monday, one child went to the hospital instead. The 12-year-old darted into traffic and was hit by a car, police said.
The accident happened near Jones Elementary School, but police say the student actually attends nearby Whitney Middle School.
Officers say the seventh grader was not seriously injured.
Police say the accident happened about two blocks from a school zone.