BEXLER COUNTY, Texas (PNN) - May 24, 2012 - Northside Independent School District plans to track students next year on two of its campuses using technology implanted in their student identification cards in a trial that could eventually include all 112 of its schools and all of its nearly 100,000 students.
District officials said the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags would improve safety by allowing them to locate students - and count them more accurately at the beginning of the school day to help offset cuts in state funding, which is partly based on attendance.
No mention was made of the invasion of privacy or the Orwellian aspect of using technology to watch over students in a supposedly free society.
Chip readers on campuses and school buses can detect a student's location but can't track the student once he or she leaves school property. Only authorized thug officials will have access to the information, according to district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez.
However, Gonzalez failed to explain how officials who abuse the technology and unlawfully intrude into the private lives of students would be held accountable for their actions.
Gonzalez said the district plans to send letters to parents whose students are getting the RFID-tagged ID cards. He said thug officials understand that students could leave the card somewhere, thus throwing off the system. The cards cost $15 each, and if lost, a student will have to pay for a new one.
Gonzalez indicated that the district picked schools with lower attendance rates and staff willing to pilot the tags.
The district plans to spend $525,065 to implement the pilot program and $136,005 per year to run it, but it will more than pay for itself, predicted Steve Bassett, Northside's Assistant Superintendent for Budget and Finance. If successful, Northside would get $1.7 million next year from both higher attendance and Medicaid reimbursements for busing special education students, he said.
But the payoff could be a lot bigger if the program goes district wide, said Bassett.
He said the program was one way the growing district could respond to the Legislature's cuts in state education funding. Northside trimmed its budget last year by $61.4 million.