CPS officials have released Safe Passage routes for dozens of schools – including some in Austin – that will be receiving students from now-closed schools starting Aug. 26 when classes begin.
About 1,300 students from the four schools that closed in Austin will be affected by the routes that will take them to Oscar Depriest Elementary School, George Leland Elementary School and Edward K. Ellington Elementary School.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she walked five of the routes citywide, including one in Austin, according to DNAinfo.
Byrd-Bennett told reporters she felt safe walking the routes.
But some have already expressed doubts about the safety of the routes – along which there will be safety monitors before and after school –
after a shooting along a Bronzeville Safe Passage route killed one and wounded another.
Dwayne Truss, West Side organizer for Raise Your Hand for Illinois Education, said the new routes aren’t perfect.
There are only two new streets for the kids coming from Francis Scott Key Elementary to welcoming school Ellington, he said.
“That’s a lot less than what they had at Key,” said Truss.
What’s the point if they have to get to the route first, he asked.
Angela Graham, former chair of Key Elementary’s Local School Council, agrees.
She worries that the Safe Passage route for Ellington doesn’t start soon enough on Central Avenue for her child’s walk to the new school, she said.
CPS officials have said they received input on the routes from the Chicago Police Department, parents, teachers, students and the community.
But Truss said he knew of no public meetings and the routes were never discussed at Community Action Council meetings, which are directly involved in developing a strategic plan of educational success within the community, according to the CPS website.
There was one meeting about Safe Passage routes at Ellington – and only about five parents showed up, said Graham.
She said she’ll continue to take an active role in her child’s education but is giving CPS only a year to prove that putting her child in Ellington was a good move, she said.
Last week, Graham told the Chicago Tribune she isn’t confident the right people are being hired to man the Safe Passage routes.
The new routes for Depriest, Ellington and Leland will be staffed through the Westside Health Authority.
Staff there said they could not comment.
Here are the Austin routes:
Oscar Depriest Elementary School at 139 S. Parkside Ave. is welcoming students from Robert Emmett Elementary. The routes run down Washington Boulevard and Madison Street from Parkside Avenue to Lorel Avenue and down Central Avenue from Adams Street to Washington Boulevard.
George Leland Elementary School is relocating to the former Horatio May Community Elementary building at 512 S. Lavergne Ave. Students at May will remain at the site, and students from Louis Armstrong Math & Science Elementary will also be attending the school. The routes run down Laramie Avenue from Jackson Boulevard to Harrison Street and down Congress Parkway and Harrison Street from Laramie Avenue to Lavergne Avenue.
Edward K. Ellington at 243 N. Parkside Ave. is welcoming students from Francis Scott Key Elementary and Robert Emmett Elementary. The routes run down Lake Street from Austin Boulevard to Race Avenue, down Fulton Street from Menard Avenue to Race Avenue, down Menard Avenue from Lake Street to Fulton Street, down Parkside Avenue from Lake Street to Fulton Street and down Central Avenue from Lake Street to Fulton Street.