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CPS Using 'Bus Tracker' Technology For Student Safety

CHICAGO (CBS) – It's not test scores some Chicago public school students are worried about. They just want to know if they'll make it home from school.

A new effort aims to keep thousands of Chicago kids safe. As CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker reports, it means staying inside school a little bit longer.

For the last three years, the end of the school day for Stephon Blue has been filled with anxiety. It's leaving the security of Wendell Phillips High School and, like the rest of the students, having to wait on the corner to catch the bus to go home.

Blue says he wonders: "Am I in danger of being right here, where somebody can just come out and shoot me? Will my life end right now?"

But the stress in Stephon's life is little less intense these days. And it's all because of a 50-inch monitor that allows Stephon to monitor the CTA's "bus tracker" system before he heads outside.

"With the tracker, I feel like it's a life saver to me. I could know what time to be standing  at the bus stop instead of just standing out there, not knowing what time the bus is coming," the student says.

Relieving student stress is exactly why CPS officials installed the bus monitors in 35 schools, including Phillips High. Those chosen had some of the highest incidents of crimes like fights, robberies and assaults.

"They carry that stress with them into the classroom and it impacts their academic achievement, so what this does is this hopefully mitigate the amount of stress," Jadine Chou,  security chief for Chicago Public Schools, says.

At Phillips, there have been 74 violent incidents this year. That's better than last year's 107 during the same time period.

What's helped is increased police, security, and "safe passage" workers.  Principal Devon Horton sees the bus tracker as another important tool.

"I don't have to worry about being in any type of crossfires," senior Latezia Coleman says.

CPS officials plan to eventually install bus tracker monitors in all the high schools that have either a large number of students who rely on public transportation or security concerns.

It cost about $$250,000 to install the 35 monitors. CPS officials say much of the money came from grants.

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