CPS, police discuss 'Safe Passage' plans for students next fall

June 14, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Many students will be attending new schools because 49 schools are closing. While CPS students are not even on summer break yet, the discussions about safety next fall have already begun. On Friday, city leaders were talking about how to get students to and from school safely, especially those students who are moving to new schools.

"With regards to school transitions, every welcoming school this fall will have a customized, dedicated safety plan created in collaboration with the Chicago Police Department to ensure that our students have a safe route to and from school and a safe environment inside of their school," said Jadine Chou, chief safety and security officer with Chicago Public Schools.

Chou, along with leaders from several different agencies, briefed the media Friday on 'Safe Passage,' primarily for children from those 49 schools slated to close -- students being moved to neighboring schools.

CPS plans on doubling up on a program which pays adults in the community to help students get safely to and from school.

They will also work with police and other departments, like Streets and Sanitation, to eliminate vacant homes near schools.

Students at Marconi Elementary on the West Side are being moved to Tilton, but some parents say the new walk to school is not safe enough.

"It's a safety issue. I'm not used to that end of the area down here. I have been down there. I used to work in that area, but as far as her being a student at Tilton? Never. Never," said Marconi Elementary parent Bridgette Stanciel.

Not all parents immediately expressed a major problem with the arrangement, however.

"Marconi and Tilton are not too far from each other -- you have some corners that maybe you have a little trouble, but if all the parents stick together, we can make a good school," said Marconi Elementary parent Tiffany Jasper.

Since the Safe Passage program began in 2009, CPS officials say serious incidents are actually down by 30 percent. City leaders hope by doubling up and adding all of these agencies and working together that things will be safer in the fall.

Officials say vacant buildings will be demolished or boarded up, and over $7 million will be spent to hire about 600 Safe Passage workers, trained by CPD to learn problem solving tactics in case trouble arises along school routes.

Tilton parents are not concerned, they believe the incoming Marconi students would be better off here:

"My kids have been here for like, five years they know the teachers personally. It's like their mom, so I think it will be good to bring in kids in this school," said Serena Williams, Tilton parent.

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