The controversial Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Safe Passage program is raising eyebrows over reports that, despite a successful first week according to law enforcement, turnover has been high among those hired to watch over the routes.
In the Roseland neighborhood, half of the hired Safe Passage workers reportedly walked off the job last week, according to CBS Chicago. Additionally, the news outlet reported that one Safe Passage area in the neighborhood, at 119th and State Streets, was left unmanned on Tuesday morning. The vendor in charge of that area tried to explain away the lack of a route supervisor saying there are floaters in the area, although he did concede that no particular person was assigned to that corner. Meanwhile, one Roseland resident told CBS 2 that route watchers were at the corner when school first started last week, but she has not seen anyone there since that time.
One of the 18 Safe Passage vendors tasked with employing and assigning the 1,200 route supervisors said they lost 13 of their 26 workers the day after school began. The vendor reportedly lost some of the workers due to the hot weather as well as them having found or deciding to look for better, full-time work. Safe Passage route workers are paid $10 an hour for a split shift that amounts to about five hours of work per day. Vendors say they recognize that the job will see high turnover and are working to have back ups on hand to take the place of those who quit or simply fail to show up again for their shifts.
The Safe Passage program has been ramped up by the CPS district as a means to help the students affected by the massive round of school closures that took place in June. The route watchers along with police officers, firefighters and even business owners are tasked with keeping an eye on students are they travel back and forth to school through new and sometimes dangerous areas.