Pennsylvania’s Easton Area school district will begin issuing smart cards to students to enable building access and to track boarding and departing from school buses.
As reported by The Morning Call, Easton Area school board members decided to implement ScholarChip and issue smart cards to students for attendance, library privileges, and eventually to purchase food in school cafeterias.
Middle and high school students will swipe the new ID cards at kiosks placed at school entrances as they walk in. Meanwhile, campus visitors will also be required to check in, where the ScholarChip system will cross-reference state-issued IDs with district and national databases to identify any flags like abuse orders, custody agreements or sexual offense convictions.
The kiosks will be manned by security personnel who will visually verify that the every person who swipes in is the same person who appears on each ID card.
The district will implement the system in two stages: the first, by mid-October, will install the visitor management and check-in systems at all middle and high school campuses. The second phase, to be implemented January 2019, will add the bus attendance component.
As part of phase two, buses will be outfitted with tablets, and bus drivers will be able to see which students are supposed to board at each bus stop and can also manually log children in.
At its most recent meeting, the school board considered a ScholarChip proposal that ultimately failed by a 4-2 vote. That proposal included a third phase that gave districts a minute-by-minute breakdown of student locations and would have seen them swipe in to classrooms, cafeterias and potentially bathrooms. At the time, board members voted against the proposal, viewing it as “invasive monitoring of students.”
The ScholarChip system, hardware, licensing and training will cost the Easton Area school district roughly $160,000 in year one and $28,000 in year two.