With two weeks to go until the start of school, CPS is collaborating with several city departments to ensure that all welcoming schools are ready and fully resourced by the first day of school - Monday, August 26.
Approximately 90 percent of sending school students have now enrolled in CPS, with the vast majority electing to attend their designated welcoming schools. All resources and learning materials from sending schools have been prepped and packed, and are now in the process of being moved to welcoming schools. This move has been the project of 245 community workers – youth who were hired by CPS and the Department of Family Support Services (DFSS) to move furniture, technology and other resources between sending and welcoming schools during the summer.
“Engaging youth and community members as our partners in this work is part of our shared mission of providing children with a safe and seamless transition to welcoming schools in the fall, “ said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “We want to take every opportunity to work side by side with our communities in this effort as we work toward putting all of Chicago’s children on a path to success.”
As community workers continue setting up welcoming school classrooms, the District’s IT department is busy moving and installing more than 6,000 pieces of technology equipment, including computers, printers, scanners and whiteboards. Meanwhile, all Principal Transition Coordinators (PTCs) have worked with principals to arrange over 200 integration events to blend school cultures and help students and families achieve comfort ability in their new learning environments.
“There are lots of activities going on each week, and most are going over very well,” said Pat Walsh, who heads up the District’s PTCs. “Our students, parents and staff have learned the language of transition and are working together to create the kind of environment that will make for a successful school year.”
One significant achievement for the PTCs has been the successful transfer of all student records to welcoming schools – an effort that will ensure easy access to critical information about new students.
“These are legal documents that need to be in the right place,” said Pat Walsh, “especially when we’re talking about health records. These should be at a school’s disposal at all times.”
Another major priority for the transition team has been the creation of student safety plans. A $7.7 million expansion of the Safe Passage program will ensure that all welcoming schools have adults from the community monitoring travel routes to and from school. Designated Safe Passage routes were finalized by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) last week and have now been sent to all welcoming school families. Maps of the routes are available for viewing at www.cps.edu/safepassage.
Other city agencies are also contributing to the transition plan, including the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS), which has addressed over 25,000 safety issues in Safe Passage zones, including abandoned vehicles, graffiti, and overgrown lots, and the Department of Buildings (DOB), which has investigated over 1,100 reports of vacant buildings along the routes.
More progress will continue to be made over the next two weeks, including the completion of construction projects, the installation of 2,400 air conditioners, and the configuration of new wireless data ports at all welcoming schools, as well as technology briefings for teachers, administrators and staff and specialized training for Safe Passage workers. Additionally, each welcoming school will host a Welcome Week with more cultural integration events as well as activities centered on team building and social emotional learning.
“This has been a challenging time for everyone involved,” said pat Walsh, “but to see the interaction between students and their families and to hear all the positive conversations taking place is very encouraging.”