Posted: Feb 20, 2013 11:59 AM by Janine Reyes
Updated: Feb 20, 2013 6:43 PM
SINTON - The Sinton Independent School District has tightened security since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Today, school staff began fingerprinting middle school students so parents and staff can track the kids who take the bus.
Sinton is the first school district in the state of Texas to use the technology. Staff at Smith Middle School will spent this week recording fingerprints for hundreds of their students. By next week, they plan to have biometric tracking devices installed on their buses.
"Many of our parents work in Corpus. So they're going to be able to go in their computer and say school is out at 3, they should be in the bus at 3:15, and actually see, yes, Johnny is on the bus, I'm safe," Sinton Superintendent Steve VanMatre said.
7th grader Cole Hobbs says it's a tool his parents will likely use. "Have you ever missed your bus," we asked him. "Yes," Hobbs said, "my mom drove me." Now she'll be able to check online to make sure that didn't happen, and take the necessary steps if it does.
It's not just for students who get to and from school by bus, though, VanMatre says there are many other uses.
"Our baseball team, when they get on a bus to play Calallen or Carroll, they will be scanned," VanMatre explained, "when we take our 2nd graders to ballet in Kingsville, they will be scanned on that bus. Any time our buses travel we're going to know who's on them."
It's a pretty simple process as students board their bus they'll scan their thumbprint. The entire process takes less than 2 seconds.
About 10% of parents decided to opt out of the program. Some told officials they were concerned about identity theft. But staff says the prints cannot be duplicated. Even law enforcement will have limited access to the school records.
"They won't have access to the scans, the prints, but we're giving them, Chief DeLeon and DPS, we are giving them access where they can go on line and see what the parents can see," said VanMatre.
The system should be up and running next week. Once it goes live, parents will be able to track their kids online.
The system costs $20,000 dollars for 3 years of service. VanMatre says they had already looked into the system prior to the Newtown incident, but after the deadly shooting, he decided to install the system now for safety.
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