Safe Passage could put parents at ease

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ILLINOIS — Do you ever worry about your child getting to and from school safely? Some lawmakers hope to put parents’ minds at ease by launching a program to help students get to class safe-and-sound.

Community activist Reginald Dale works to make sure neighborhoods in Central Illinois are safe. He says, while crime is highlighted in the news in Chicago, it also happens close to home.

“With the high volume of shootings and stuff like that, just having a presence of somebody from the level of authority or something like that, being seen with the kids, that can help out.”

A new bill would provide transportation to students who live in high crime areas to make sure they can get to school safely. School districts currently only provide rides to students who live more than 1.5 miles away.

This would allow students to ride the bus, even if school is just a few blocks away.

“Even in safe areas, as a parent, you always worry about those things clearly. And, an area that’s not quite as safe, that would be a high concern.”

Under the bill, schools could be reimbursed to pay for the services. It would allow schools to pay companies through transportation grants.

“These kids would benefit because they would fee more secure. It’s not like that in every neighborhood.”

Right now, the state funds similar programs in Chicago. Dale says it’s needed throughout the state.

“It can never hurt to have an extra presence of, like a mentor or somebody, that would make the kids feel more secure. That’s priceless.”

Under the proposal, local police and the State Board of Education would identify which areas are considered gerous.

The proposal passed out of the Education Committee and now heads to the House floor for consideration.

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