Students, teachers and even parents extend a fist when they see Amir Boulett. They know fist bumps are Boulett’s greeting of choice, and they happily oblige as they pass behind the crossing guard’s handheld stop sign.
“He’s terrific,” said Courtenay C. Corrigan, Los Altos Hills city councilwoman. “I can see the positive reports and thank-yous about having him there.”
This week marks Boulett’s fourth as Gardner Bullis School’s new crossing guard. The Palo Alto resident is expected to remain in that position through at least the end of the school year. The city council last week agreed to re-evaluate the $6,000-a-year shared investment with the Los Altos School District in June. Councilmembers declined, however, to adopt an ad hoc safety committee’s recommendation to install a temporary speed table at the site of the Fremont Road crosswalk.
“I’m not interested in spending more money to continue to throw at this problem,” said Corrigan, who cast the lone ad hoc committee dissenting vote against the speed table recommendation. “We’ve already invested and committed to putting a crossing guard in there. My feeling is, let’s wait until the end of the school year and see how that works out.”
Corrigan estimates that the city has already spent $100,000 to make busy Fremont Road safer for pedestrians and cyclists to cross. The bill includes labor and materials to relocate the crosswalk from the west side of Fremont Pines Lane to the east side, installation of a flashing crosswalk sign and traffic studies to determine just how egregious speeding is on 25-mph Fremont Road. Installing a temporary speed table – essentially raising the existing crosswalk and turning it into a speed bump – would cost between $10,000 and $12,000.
City councilmembers have long advocated for the crosswalk’s removal because they believe it is safer for children to cross Fremont Road at controlled areas at Miranda and Manuella roads, where stop signs are installed. In November, councilmembers announced their intention to remove the crosswalk, but pushback from the school district and the Gardner Bullis community caused them to relent and agree to employing a crossing guard on a trial basis.
An informal two-question survey presented to 44 Gardner Bullis parents indicates that 52 percent like the idea of slowing traffic in front of the school, but they believe a raised crosswalk only provides enough of a safeguard when used in tandem with a crossing guard.