Chicago schools preparing for new academic year

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Public Schools officials say the district is working to ensure a smooth transition for students whose schools have been closed.

In a statement Friday, the district says CPS has been contacting parents and families by phone, text message, emails and letters to encourage them to enroll their children for the 2013-2014 school year.

CPS also has selected 19 community-based organizations to participate in the district's Safe Passage program. Those organizations will hire 600 new staff that will be stationed along designated routes to help students get to and from school safely.

The city is also boarding up hundreds of abandoned buildings along those routes.

The board of education voted in May to close 49 schools. Officials say the closures are necessary to improve the financially struggling district.

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