One Baltimore city councilman wants to issue ID cards to students that would be used to ride buses and use other school and government services, effectively extending the familiar one card concept that is already in place at a number of higher ed institutions.
Per a report from The Baltimore Sun, the one card system in question would model similar programs in cities in Washington and Boston, where young residents already use the ID to enter libraries and recreation centers and leverage services like public transit. City Councilman Brandon Scott is behind the motion and feels that a One Card system would help Baltimore better serve young people by offering easier access to valuable services.
A pillar of the one card concept is the convenience of having to carry a single card in place of the many school IDs, library cards and bus passes that a typical student may already carry. The one card would also help city government to better serve students by gathering performance and usage data for its programs.
Those opposed to the new ID proposal believe a one card could potentially create access barriers for students or threaten privacy. In particular, there is worry that losing the card could result in students being unable to enter their schools, while the misuse of the data could also prove problematic.
The councilman’s proposal suggests that the cards be issued as a form of student ID, and produce data that is “already accessible through means such as sign-in sheets at recreation centers and libraries.”
The city of Baltimore’s school system has already shown its support for the one card system, when last spring it piloted a similar program in three area schools.
Some 3,000 students were issued bus passes that were also used to track attendance at Baltimore’s Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School, Digital Harbor High School and Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. At one of the schools, the cards could also be used at the school’s library to check out books.
The school system’s executive director of operations reported the pilot, which ended in June, to be a success and the school system is in negotiations with the Maryland Transit Administration to revisit the program again.
Baltimore school officials say that outfitting all schools with the the IDs would cost an estimated $3 million, with a recurring annual cost of roughly $1 million for data service, maintenance and supplies. The district now pays $5.2 million for Maryland Transit Administration bus passes for roughly 34,000 students.