New emphasis for school safe-corridor program

Posted: August 11, 2013

As about 10,000 Philadelphia School District students prepare to attend new schools outside their neighborhoods this year, officials announced plans for an expanded program to make sure their trips to and from school are safe.

Called the WalkSafePHL initiative, it will involve the School District, Philadelphia and SEPTA Police, and community members, Mayor Nutter and School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said at a City Hall news conference.

The aim is to protect students as they walk, bike, or ride public transportation between their homes and schools.

The stepped-up program was outlined a day after Hite warned schools might not open as scheduled on Sept. 9 if school funding issues are not resolved by Friday.

Nutter said, "I am certainly optimistic that schools will open on time. . . . We need to be prepared."

WalkSafePHL is being organized by Town Watch Integrated Services, a city anticrime agency that coordinates safe corridors for many public schools.

About 10,000 students will be attending new schools this fall as a result of school closings and consolidations, officials said.

Hite said that during community meetings about school reassignments, "the number-one concern that students and parents had was school safety."

"What we're talking about is a facilities master plan to ensure that for about 10,000 more students to be in new locations, they have safe avenues on their way to school," Hite said.

There has been an emphasis on the schools that will receive the new students, he said.

Anthony Murphy, town watch executive director, said about 30 new corridors are planned for the schools the 10,000 students will attend.

Murphy said his organization was working on the new corridors with area businesses and residents.

"We're talking to residents to be observers, and we are recruiting volunteers to be out on the street," Murphy said.

Nutter urged residents to volunteer for WalkSafePHL by visiting www.walksafephl.org or calling 215-686-1459.


Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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