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CPS to hire more ‘Safe Passage’ patrols to watch over kids going to different schools

Updated: April 28, 2013 6:48AM



Chicago Public Schools officials said Tuesday they will spend $7.7 million to hire local community groups to patrol consolidated schools in their own neighborhoods, announcing an effort to hire more “Safe Passages” vendors.

Amid serious safety concerns for CPS students traveling farther to new schools, CPS is looking for vendors in 38 specific communities, mostly on the South and West sides where the bulk of school consolidations is set to occur. The district wants to match community groups with nearby schools, said Jadine Chou, CPS’ chief of safety and security, adding to the $8.4 million program already active in 35 high schools and four elementary schools.

“They know many of the families at our schools. They already have the trust and the relationship with the students they will be serving,” Chou said.

Safe Passages, which began in the 2010-11 school year, pays “community watchers” about $10 an hour for about 5 1/2 hours of work a day. Currently each school has from about eight to about 20 community watchers who patrol the surrounding area before school and after school, Chou said.

The bulk of the new Safe Passages workers will patrol around the schools getting new students, Chou said. In cases where the old school is more than 0.8 of a mile from the new one, the distance requiring CPS-provided buses, workers will also patrol the area around the old school where children get on and off buses, she said. Routes have not yet been determined, she said.

Last week, schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced she intends to close 54 schools in 61 buildings throughout the district, pending the Board of Education’s vote in May. Children whose schools close for good in June will be sent to a total of 55 receiving schools.

Many parents — and aldermen — have expressed concern about how to shuttle children back and forth to new schools over farther differences, pointing to shifting gang boundaries. Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has said that his officers will be able to keep displaced students safe —if they stick to the Safe Passages corridors.



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