Beginning with the new school year, students in the Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 can check out lunch items with their fingerprints rather than their ID cards.
According to the Lake Zurich Courier, Lake Zurich will join a host of other area school districts to embrace biometrics on campus. District officials say that the optional fingerprint payment system will boost efficiency by increasing throughput at the lunch line.
With some expressing concerns over student privacy the initiative will remain optional for now. “The option of using biometric is being implemented as a convenience to avoid issues with the need to carry and retain a payment card,” said district board President Doug Goldberg in a statement to the Courier. “It is one option of the payment system and is not mandatory to use.”
The district approved the biometric initiative in February, as it looks to phase out its current food-service software. After assessing a number of options that would simplify student lunch payments and make funding student accounts more convenient for parents, Lake Zurich landed on Geneva, Ill.-based biometric startup, PushCoin.
A cloud-based, centralized payment system, PushCoin enables a school web store capability, parent portal, administrative site and a point-of-sale app. More than 5,600 Lake Zurich students and parents will have the option to enroll in the service at the start of the new school year.
PushCoin also boasts a mobile-friendly site, email notifications for low account balances, the ability to view transaction history, and the option to transfer funds from one child’s account to another.
In response to concerns about the program — and to fingerprint technology as a whole — PushCoin insists that significant attention is paid to the protection of student privacy and that the system does not store or send images of fingerprints. Moreover, any student fingerprint data older than 120 days are also deleted.
The neighboring Geneva District 304 started using PushCoin as a point-of-sale system for food services in 2014 and later added web store capabilities in 2015. The addition of the web store saw the number of transactions increase dramatically from 65,605 in 2014 to 491,886 in 2015. The web store supports the payment of registration fees, field trip costs, and school apparel among other expenses.
As for privacy concerns at District 3o4, of the 5,668 students at District 304, less than 15% of students opted out of the program. The district also hasn’t dealt with privacy or security issues involving the handling of student fingerprints.