Free ride through a Safe Passage?

March 28, 2014 (CHICAGO)

CPS officials say it would cost them millions of dollars they don't have. The Illinois House passed the bill Thursday, and now it's up to the Senate.

An insistent State Representative Mary Flowers defends her efforts to help keep students traveling along safe passage routes out of harm's way.

The South Side Democrat's bill - which passed 73 to 39 - expands a state law already on the books that requires school districts to provide free transportation to students who live one and a half miles or more from their schools and don't have public transit as an option

Chicago public school officials say the measure would force the district to provide over 900 additional buses to the over 53,000 students who must walk to and from school along Safe Passage routes - an expansion they say would cost nearly $61 million a year - money they say they don't have.

But Flowers says her bill makes it possible for parents of Safe Passage students to be eligible for qualified travel reimbursement under the state's Pupil Transportation Program.

According to legislative analysis of the bill, during the 2012-2013 school year, more than 260 shootings and murders occurred along current Safe Passage routes.

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