Board Approves Expansion of Safe Passage to Serve 133 Schools This Year 

Approved Expansion to Serve Additional 15,000 students at 27 Schools; Expand 93 Existing Routes

CPS Office of Communications

The Chicago Board of Education voted today to approve the expansion of the Safe Passage program to serve an additional 27 new schools and expand upon services at 106 current schools. This expansion, made possible through a $10 million investment from the State of Illinois, will allow the District to reach 69,000 students this year, supporting them as they make their way to and from school safely. The Board recently approved a $1 million expansion Mayor Emanuel announced last month through the City of Chicago, which added six new routes to the program.

"Ensuring that every child has access to a safe and nurturing learning environment is one of our top priorities, which is why we continue to invest in our successful Safe Passage program,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "This expansion will allow us to engage more communities to remove barriers that could keep students out of the classroom. It is with the unrelenting dedication of our Safe Passage workers and community members that our children can remain focused on their studies, and not their safety.”

CPS will hire an additional 600 workers to add Safe Passage workers along school perimeters at 27 additional schools, and increase the number of workers along 93 routes. Combined with other investments made by the City, Safe Passage will be added to a total 40 new schools this year, up from 93 routes last year and triple the number of routes since 2011.

Last year, the Safe Passage program doubled, with 53 new routes to accommodate students transitioning to welcoming schools. Following a transition of nearly 12,000 students to new schools and the essential doubling of the program, there had been no major incidents involving students on Safe Passage routes near schools during the program’s operational hours.

The Safe Passage program has been successfully keeping Chicago school children safe as they travel to and from specific schools since its inception in 2009. Safe Passage has demonstrated other important affects in schools, including the decline of criminal incidents around schools, and an increase in attendance. Safe Passage historically results in a 7 percent boost in attendance at a school, contributing to a District attendance record of 93.2 percent last school year.

Safe passage workers support students by not only being an extra set of eyes and ears to proactively identify and report safety risks, but also by building relationships with students and if necessary, de-escalating situations to prevent serious incidents from happening in the first place. All Safe Passage workers participate in on-going throughout the year.

The District collaborates with 23 various community organizations, known as “Safe Passage vendors,” to hire residents from the community to staff routes that ensure students get to and from school safely. 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.

Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.