FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, June 25, 2015
The Chicago Board of Education voted last night to approve the contracts of 22 community organizations that hire neighborhood residents to staff Safe Passage routes and ensure students get to and from school safely. As part of the program, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials are planning to expand the Safe Passage program to serve students at an additional seven schools this fall.
“These workers play a critical role to ensure students get to and from school safely,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Safe passage is about more than just building a route to school; it is about building a route to college, career and beyond, so that once our kids get to school, they get the world-class education they deserve.”
The Safe Passage Program has undergone a substantial expansion since its inception in 2009. It started with 35 schools and will operate at 140 schools this fall. There had been no major incidents involving students on Safe Passage routes near schools during the program’s operational hours
“The safety and security of our students is our top priority,” said Jesse Ruiz, Acting CEO of CPS. “Through collaboration with community groups the Safe Passage Program supports students by being an extra set of eyes and ears to proactively identify and report safety risks.”
The success of the program is credited to the positive engagement of Safe Passage workers with the students they serve. Safe Passage workers are from the communities in which they serve, and therefore understand the community dynamics, and often already know the families and students.
Safe Passage has demonstrated other important effects in schools, including the decline of criminal incidents around schools and an increase in attendance. Safe Passage historically results in a seven percent boost in attendance at a school, contributing to a District attendance record of 93.2 percent last school year.
CPS will announce the new schools this summer, and will hold parent meetings for all schools with Safe Passage to receive feedback and input on the best options for routes.
Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.