Sarasota, Florida -- School crossing guards in Sarasota County will be privatized for the coming school year.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has hired a private firm -- Staffing Connection/Action Labor of Fort Lauderdale -- to recruit, retain, train and supervise about 35 crossing guards.
The firm will also be completely responsible for the recruitment, retention, training and supervision of personnel.
A 1992 state law requires crossing guards to be certified by the Florida Department of Transportation, and pass a written and practical skills tests plus clear a criminal background check.
Sheriff's spokesperson Wendy Rose says that each week during the school year deputies were taken off the streets to fill vacancies at school crosswalks.
"From the hiring process to the day to day work of a crossing guard it was taxing on the sheriff's office," Rose said. "Really the right thing to do for children and the community is to let deputies be deputies and find crossing guards who can just be crossing guards."
Sheriff's officials say the school crossing guards will be recertified each year and undergo a background check.
The current school crossing guards are part-time employees with the sheriff's office. The guards will have a chance to transfer to the new company. The uniforms for the new guards will be white shirts or blouses and navy or dark-colored pants or trousers.