Along the 100 block of South Parkside on Chicago’s west side, it did not take long for CPS’s security chief to see the task still ahead.
“Here’s an example of a vacant lot,” said Jadine Chou from CPS, pointing to an overgrown area.
“Streets and Sanitation would help take care of the weeds to clean it up and make sure that our children are more confident as they travel to school.”
In the next month CPS and the city will be busy finishing the safety task of not only clearing out empty lots of weeds and debris from safe passage routes, but towing abandoned cars, removing graffiti, trimming trees and demolition of at least four vacant buildings.
Since closing nearly 50 schools in June CPS pledged to nearly double the scope of the safe passage program adding $7.7 million to its cost.
The money, in part, is going towards hiring 600 more workers to keep an eye on students on the routes as they go to and from their new schools.
“We had this program, and still have it, in 35 of our high schools and four elementary schools. It’s been very successful in making the students feel safe and giving them that peace of mind that they can travel to school safely,” said Chou.
On the west side at least one student approves of the changes and hopes to continue.
“We’re going to have more eyes on us to watch us and stuff,” said CPS 8th grader Kenneth Crockett. “That helps.. It can stop from someone kidnapping you or anything. It helps a lot.”