Parents at Benito Middle School gathered last school year to remind drivers to slow down in the mornings when driving by the school, but will have crossing guards to do so this year.

Parents have long complained that despite traffic lights and clearly marked walkways, children attending Benito Middle School faced very real dangers having to cross busy Cross Creek Blvd. every weekday morning without the aid of a crossing guard.

Well, their complaints definitely have been heard.

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)  approved in April a plan to spend roughly $1 million to employ Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies as crossing guards at all 43 Hillsborough middle schools, the first county in Florida to do so.

Following the BOCC approval, a study was implemented to determine the countywide needs and so far, 78 crossing guard positions have been earmarked by HCSO for 37 schools, including Benito and Liberty Middle School in Tampa Palms.

According to the list released last month, Benito will have two crossing guards stationed at the two corners of Kinnan St. and Cross Creek Blvd.  

Liberty will have one crossing guard stationed at Commerce Park Blvd. and New Tampa Blvd.

Other middle schools stationed in high-traffic areas will have as many as six crossing guards, such as Ben Hill Middle School near Ehrlich Rd., and Adams and Farnell middle schools, which will have five crossing guards.

“Those numbers were determined by a ratio of how many students are traveling to school (via walking or biking) and how much traffic is in the area,” says HCSO spokesperson Amanda Granit.

The push for crossing guards at middle schools was spearheaded by parents across the county who protested the elimination of courtesy busing for students who live within a two-mile radius of their school.

That left students living north of Cross Creek Blvd. who walked or biked to Benito to have to cross the very busy road to get to school in the morning.

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