Mayor on hand for Bloomingdale Trail groundbreaking, also talks CPS

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel tossed the first shovel of dirt on the site of the future Bloomingdale Trail today. The 2.7 mile long abandoned rail line in Chicago is expected to welcome bikers, walkers, and others by the Fall of 2014.

Mayor Emanuel made it one of his campaign promises to complete the plan joining neighborhoods that have otherwise been divided by the dangerous and unsightly tracks.

But the real talk today was all about the first day of school in Chicago: safety and academics. The mayor said the “Safe Passage” program was designed to create escorts and watchdogs for children in high crime neighborhoods. He said the first day of school went well with no incidents to report, but he’ll be watching the progress of the program closely.

He also said the program with more fireman, policemen, hired workers and volunteers is hopefully going to make a difference and send a message to gang members that the streets belong to the children.

He also said school attendance was at a near record high this year. Official numbers are not available until Wednesday however.

Tomorrow, some parents are threatening to pull their kids out of school to protest teacher layoffs and budget cuts in recent months. The mayor says the courts have spoken. Don’t punish students who need to be in school.

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