NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—City Council voted 3-0 on Wednesday to immediately raise the salary of the city's crossing guards, in response to a crash where Fire Director Robert Rawls seriously injured three children on their way home from school.
Rawls was driving a city-owned SUV at the time, one of multiple city vehicles he has crashed and at one of at least nineteen crashes he has been involved in during his driving career.
That crash occurred at an intersection that should have had a crossing guard, but officials had told a resident who complained one week prior that it was difficult to fill all of the posts with reliable individuals.
City Business Administrator Thomas Loughlin said for the first time the Board of Education will reimburse the city for the cost of the crossing guards, and that they will also help recruit parents to fill the positions.
The city is also buying "hats, vests, and coats," for the guards, according to Assistant Business Administrator Russell Marchetta.
Loughlin said the requirements to do the job include a "clean background check… the ability to work a hour or two in the morning and an hour or two in the afternoon."
Loughlin said applicants also need to be "physically fit for the job" and that New Brunswick residents are preferred, but residency in the city is not required.
Applicants can go to the top floor of City Hall and visit the Mayor's Office or Business Administrator's office for more information.
Originally, City Council President Rebecca Escobar incorrectly said that the Council did not have the power to change the pay rates for crossing guards. But later officials acknowledged they would move forward with plans to do exactly that.
A duo of additonal laws approved this week ban parking along Comstock Street near the site where the children were struck, and create a "pick-up and drop-off zone" along Livingston Avenue.
A brand-new elementary school is set to open just a few feet away from where Rawls struck the three children.
The new salary schedule will be as follows:
- 1 to 2 years of employment: $12.50/hour ($25 a day)
- 3 to 5 years of employment: $13.50
- 6 to 9 years of employment: $14.50
- 10 to 12 years of employment: $15.50
- 13 to 15 years of employment: $16.50
- 16 years or more of employment: $17.00
"A cash bonus of Two Hundred ($200.00) Dollars will be given at the end of the school year for those guards who achieved perfect attendance for the year," reads the ordinance.
Despite conflicting information in the ordinance, officials said they intend for the raise to take effect immediately.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.