Question - Crossing Guard - Summerdale Primary School, Stanley Street
Wednesday 21 June 2022, Question without notice
Ms ARMITAGE question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
Mr President, my question is to the Leader of the Government:
(1) Why was the crossing guard posted at the Stanley Street pedestrian crossing servicing Summerdale Primary School in Launceston withdrawn without notifying the school of this change?
(2) Is it common practice to exclude schools and school communities from decisions like these and, if so, why?
(3) On what basis is allocation of a crossing guard determined? For example, what is the number of pedestrian crossing users that is needed to deem a crossing guard necessary?
(4) Was the Stanley Street crossing guard redeployed? If so, where were they sent?
(5) Whether the Government will consider working with the Summerdale Primary School, the students and the families to discuss remedial action, such as reinstating the crossing guard to Stanley Street?
Mr President, I thank the member for her question.
(1) Unfortunately, no consultation has yet occurred with the school. The minister is disappointed about this and has instructed the Department of State Growth to directly discuss the issue with the school.
In late 2021, an assessment of the Summerdale Primary School, Stanley Street site was conducted to determine if it still met the criteria for the school crossing patrol officer. The assessment was undertaken by the Department of State Growth and determined that vehicle and student volumes passing through the site during peak times fell significantly below the minimum threshold for a funded School Crossing Patrol Officer (SCPO).
During the 2022 school year, the Stanley Street crossing remains in operation without a paid SCPO. The school crossing flags have been deployed at the crossing in both the morning and afternoons to assist it with the safe crossing of children. The site continues to be monitored by the Department of State Growth for any safety issues, of which none have been recorded to date.
Summerdale Primary School has two other school crossings which continue to have paid SCPOs. No operational decision has been made to close any of the Summerdale crossings at this time. State Growth provides a statewide School Crossing Patrol Officer Program and the deployment of an SCPO to those sites which meet the requirement.
Traffic counts are undertaken on an as needs basis to ensure resources are allocated to those schools with the highest need and risk, the highest number of primary school students and vehicles.
In 2022, six new school sites received an SCPO in recognition of the changing school demographics, bringing the total number of children's crossings to 77 throughout Tasmania. Recruitment and retention of the SCPOs remains challenging, despite significant efforts undertaken by State Growth to address this.
(2) If an operational decision is made that a school crossing no longer meets the requirements to have a Department of State Growth‑funded SCPO, discussions should then occur with the school and the Department of Education regarding appropriate alternative arrangements.
(3) The safety of children around schools can best be addressed by raising awareness of the presence of children in a school environment, by defining locations where children cross the road. This can be achieved by the use of effective school traffic control facilities which vary depending on a range of circumstances (paid SCPO and voluntary SCPO and/or deployment of school crossing flags and things like that). As with assessments that lead to resourcing being deployed to crossings with higher risks, the minister expects schools to be consulted appropriately.
To determine if a children's crossing meets the criteria for a State Growth-funded SCPO an assessment of the vehicle and pedestrian volumes is undertaken during peak times. This information is contained in the school traffic control guidelines. The minimum requirement for a primary school is for vehicle and people movements (CV) totalling a minimum of 30 children and 250 vehicles in the hour preceding the commencement of the school day and again in the hour proceeding the conclusion of the school day or a combined CV of 15 000 or more.
(4) SCPOs are not employed to work at a specific school or crossing. Instead they are employed to work flexibly within a reasonable distance from their residence to meet operational requirements wherever the assessment may be.
(5) If permanent changes are made to any school crossing, discussions occur with the Department of Education and the school to discuss ways in which the safety of students can be maximised.