Parents grade Safe Passage system - Fox 2 News Headlines

Parents grade Safe Passage system

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - With the school year wrapping up, many Chicago parents said they are pleasantly surprised by the success of the Safe Passage system -- routes manned by workers trained in conflict resolution and armed only with two-way radios. Their mission: keep kids safe.

“I see the kids walking in the area and they are pretty alert,” said one parent.

Another agreed, “It’s working out pretty good. I see them out and about and they’re pretty visible.”

For the past school year, Chicago Public Schools have employed 1,200 Safe Passage workers at a rate of $10 per hour. Most work five hours a day. A district spokesperson says the board budgeted $15.7 million for the school year and plans to use the program for at least another school year.

Just yards from the front doors of Mollison Elementary on Thursday, there were at least two yellow-vested Safe Passage workers. The neighborhoods surrounding the block where Mollison sits are filled with gangs and violence. So, in many ways the school has become an oasis for the young students, but it’s the Safe Passage workers who help them arrive and leave safely.

“It’s given us an extra layer of protection for our kids, and that’s been really helpful and so for us, it’s absolutely working.” Mollison principal Kimberly Henderson said.

The Safe Passage system was created in response to parents who were angry that when the Board of Education voted in May 2013 to close nearly 50 schools. Back then, parents said the closures meant their kids were going to have to gross through through gang territories and areas with abandoned lots and buildings to get to their new schools.

Not everyone thinks the money is well spent. Parents like Jeanette Taylor, who chairs the Local School Council at Mollison said the money spent on Safe Passage workers is "not even a Band-Aid on a bad situation."

“You closed those schools. This is not a solution, this is a piece of tape," Taylor said.

Taylor said the $16 million is money that should be spent on a child’s education, not a child’s protection.

“It’s a waste of resources. And those Safe Passages are in nothing but black and brown neighborhoods,” she said.

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