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CPS 2024 Budget to Invest $3.9 million in Whole School Safety Plans

As a result of an unprecedented parent and student-led partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the Board of Education on Wednesday approved a $3.9 million allocation to support community-centered and holistic safety solutions in the 39 schools that have reduced or eliminated their reliance on school resource officers. A collaboration with community partners will implement safety programming and staff as part of the District’s comprehensive Whole School Safety Plan.

“The Whole School Safety Planning Process aims to remind everyone that safety is not just about physical safety, but also the emotional safety and relational trust that we absolutely must promote inside of our schools,” said Jadine Chou, CPS Chief of Safety and Security. “We are grateful for the collaboration with our trusted community partners as we work to support the safety and well being of our students and staff.”

During the past three years, the District’s Whole School Safety steering committee, composed of community-led groups, has worked with individual high schools to deepen their engagement with students, parents, staff and the community on issues of school safety and well being. As part of the Whole School Safety process, these schools have considered how to improve or replace the school resource officer programs. Most recently, the Local School Council at Marshall Metro High School voted to remove its one remaining school resource officer and Austin College & Career Academy High School’s LSC voted to move from two SROs to one SRO.

The funding that would have been used on the SROs at those schools will be invested in staffing and programming that supports the climate and culture for students and staff. New staffing positions may include, for example, a climate and culture coordinator, youth intervention specialist or school social-service assistant, dedicated to developing positive supportive relationships and resources that enhance student and staff safety and well being. New programming may emphasize social-emotional learning and include professional development with community-based organizations.

“A safe school is a place that gives students a chance to learn in all the ways that they may need,” said Natalya Miner, a junior at William Howard Taft High School. “A safe school also means teachers have freedom to be creative and innovative and administrators are present and available, engaging deeply and often with students.”

In 2020, 53 of the 152 CPS high schools had the SRO program. Since then, local school councils at the majority of those 53 schools have taken action to reduce or eliminate their SRO program, leaving 40 schools with SROs as of the 2022-23 school year. The remaining schools with a SRO program vote annually on their Whole School Safety Plans with decisions for the 2023-24 school year as follows:

  • 23 schools voted to keep one SRO
  • 16 schools voted to keep both SROs
  • One school voted to remove both SROs

In the 2023-24 school year, the district will have 39 high schools employing 57 school-based school resource officers. This represents a 47 percent reduction in the number of SROs, down from 53 high schools with 108 SROs in 2020. By continuing on the path beyond SRO programs, the district is championing the nation in efforts to reimagine systems of safety within public schools.

Individuals and organizations interested in joining the District-wide Whole School Safety Plan Steering Committee in support of the implementation of the CPS Whole School Safety Plan approach, can contact Kevin Lilly via email at [email protected].

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