PARENTS TAKE SAFETY EFFORTS TO THE STREETS
Students at several schools along the State Street corridor are waiting for a different kind of bus before and after school these days. Efforts to step up safety measures along this stretch led Mayor Richard M. Daley, school officials, and community members to create the Walking School Bus program.
As a result, Terrell, Beethoven, Hartigan, McCorkle, Colman, Farren, and Williams elementary schools, as well as DeSable High School students, are now receiving a helping hand from parent attendance officers. The officers, who are employed by the Chicago Public Schools, not only escort the elementary school children to and from school, but also serve as hall monitors, cafeteria chaperons and extra security. They even assist in locating truant students.
The Walking School Bus was initially developed to address the critical safety needs of Terrell students during a recent outbreak of gang activity that threatened the safety of the children. The programís success sparked the need and interest to expand its services to the neighboring schools.
Since the inception of the Walking School Bus, attendance has increased to 95% at the participating schools. Attendance at these schools had dropped as low as 60% at one time. Students have shown a real appreciation for the new program, and they feel much safer coming to school.
Parent attendance officers are paid a stipend to work two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. In addition to helping students get to and from school, the parents also work with the schoolís attendance office to track truant students and work to get them back in the classroom. The parent attendance officers were selected after a full-scale security screening that included background checks to weed out those with criminal records. Candidates also were required to take three days of training. Seven additional training days are scheduled at each school.
Additional efforts are also being made to secure Chicago Public School students. The CPS Interfaith Partnershipís Walking Men program, which has roughly 70 male volunteers, also walk students to and from school each day. In addition, the Chicago Housing Authorityís Tenant Patrol has been established to assist students, and offers participants a $75 a month discount on their rent.
These programs are designed to enlist the help and involvement of our community to ensure the safety of our children.
Dr. Cozette Buckney, Chief Education Officer, Chicago Public Schools, 773-535-3700
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.