It promises to be one of the most powerful cards high school kids will carry.
It’ll tell teachers who students are, how old they are, whether they should be in class, whether they can log on to the Internet.
It’ll allow them to check out library books, buy lunch, ride the school bus and attend school dances.
During the next few weeks, students in all Spokane School District 81 high schools will line up to be photographed for the new, information-packed identification badges.
Educators tout the wallet-sized cards as a way to make schools safer and routine tasks more convenient.
School board members are expected to approve a proposal today allowing schools to make the badges mandatory for students. The meeting begins at noon in the downtown administration building, 200 N. Bernard.
Central Valley School District students are a short step behind. Administrators there are planning a similar card high school students will use later this fall, said spokesman Skip Bonuccelli.
So far, Spokane students won’t have to wear the cards, just carry them. But educators say next year kids may be required to wear them so teachers can see the card at a glance.
Some teenagers say the cards won’t work for one simple reason: Kids won’t remember to carry them.
At North Central High School, where students were the first to try out the ID cards last year, critics called them an invasion of privacy.
“Some thought it was a conspiracy to have us all tagged, marked and controlled,” said former student body president Nathan Fewel, chuckling.
“The question is whether it’s a step toward more control or not. Or what are they trying to gain? Label kids or convenience them? Maybe it’s both.”
At Havermale Alternative High School, where students were photographed Tuesday for their new cards, student Jeff Wood pocketed his proudly.
“I think it’s a great thing,” said Wood, 17. “They can keep all the tabs on me they want, as long as they get me through school.”
Latasha McClain, also 17, wasn’t so eager for something else to remember every morning. “I think lots of people are going to forget it.”
Walt Pegram, security officer at North Central High, said he used the identification system numerous times to weed out troublemakers last year.
“In all of our schools, we have a real problem with nonstudents. A lot of them are there for trouble. We had a lot of gang-related people on our campus last year either there recruiting or making trouble with kids they’d met on the weekend.”
Now it’s easy to tell who’s who, he said. No card? No access.
A glance at the cards also tells a teacher which students have their parents’ permission to sign on to the Internet.
Spokane schools spent about $108,000 on equipment to make the cards, which will cost schools another 80 cents apiece, said Joe Austin, technology director.
Once a student is photographed, a copy of the picture also goes into the teenager’s permanent file so teachers and counselors can easily identify students, Austin said.
Someday the cards may be used in middle schools, too, educators said. Or the bar code on the back, which is used to check out library books or buy lunch, may also tell teachers which students haven’t paid fees or fines.
Already, Spokane police officers at Albi Stadium have found new uses for the cards, said Christine Lynch, assistant principal at North Central.
Students caught drinking, smoking or fighting during high school games had their cards confiscated by police and returned to the school so educators know who caused trouble, Lynch said.
“I think our possibilities haven’t manifested yet.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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