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New Safe Passage routes for the new school year

Chicago Public Schools is adding new safety routes this school year, which begins Sept. 8, officials said.

The seven new Safe Passage routes, as they’re called, affect about 2,500 students. CPS now has safety routes for some 75,000 schoolchildren.

Many of the new routes are near Altgeld Gardens on the far South Side.

CPS Chief Safety and Security Officer Jadine Chou said that area, along with others, has been “challenging” and community members sought the watchful eyes of Safe Passage workers, who patrol the area near the school wearing bright yellow vests.

“We have had some concerns in that area probably starting last spring,” Chou said. “There have been incidents in that area … the answer we believe is to involve the community in driving the safety.”

Aldridge Elementary School is one of the schools set to receive the new route.

Lashanda McCullough’s grandson and nephew attend the school and she was happy to learn about the new safety route in her neighborhood.

“That’s exactly what they need,” said McCullough, 41, noting there have been numerous shootings in the community.

“The gangbangers will see more adults, in yellow vests, out there,” McCullough said. “They wouldn’t be so quick to do the things that they do.”

Chou said 140 schools will now have Safe Passage routes.

Besides Aldridge, the schools getting the new routes:

  • Carver Primary School
  • Carver MilitaryAcademy High School
  • Phoenix Military Academy High School
  • Randolph Elementary School
  • Chicago International Charter School — Lloyd Bond
  • Chicago International Charter School — Larry Hawkins

CPS began implementing the monitored paths after the 2009 beating death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert.

The district expanded the program when it closed 50 schools in 2013.

“Since 2011 we have not had a single serious incident where one of students has been hurt on a Safe Passage route under operational hours,” Chou said. “We intend to keep that going.”

This year the district plans to spend nearly $18 million on the program.