CPS CEO touts Safe Passage program while parents continue to protest closures

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Chicago Public School officials, local leaders and parents held two difference marched in the streets today.

Concerned parents who don’t want their children to walk any farther to school than they do right now marched in protest over school closures.

The other featured CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett who was trying to show they have a plan to get students to school safely.

Byrd-Bennett staged walking interviews with reporters outside of Fenger High School to talk about the expansion of the Safe Passage Program, which would be nearly doubled in size and budget when CPS closes more than 50 schools in the fall.  While CPS says the closures would save about $43 million dollars a year in operating expenses, it plans to spend nearly $8 million more to expand the program that places paid community watchers along major routes to and from CPS schools.

“I’ve been visiting a number of our welcoming schools to ensure that what we think is happening is happening,” Byrd-Bennett said.  “That we are vetting our thinking around safe passage that we are able to have a plan vetted with the police department who can advise us about empty lots and vacant buildings so we can ensure that our children walking to our schools will be safe.”

Meanwhile, a group of parents who are against the school closings all together staged their own walk saying their concerned about their students walking to a new school which, likely is farther than the one the currently attend.

“I have an 11-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy and I don’t want my boys to walk through violent blocks,” said parent Lakecha Green.  “I don’t want them to walk through gangs.”

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