School personnel to get ID badges

August 17, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

To increase security in public schools this year, all employees will be asked to wear identification cards, according to Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr.

The Washington County Board of Education plans to issue photographic badges to its approximately 3,000 employees within the next six weeks.

All employees would be required to display them. In the future, the board may require students to do the same.

"With the heightened awareness of security in our schools, we feel it's incumbent on us to take a look at what's out there to make our schools as safe as possible," said Director of Budget and Finance Chris South.

In a presentation to the board Tuesday morning, South said the system will cost between $15,000 and $30,000. He estimated it will be close to $20,000.


The board will hire a company to create a database of images, names and other information to go with the badges. It will also buy the equipment to create the badges, such as a digital camera, printer and software.

Manager of Purchasing Robert L. Stambaugh has sought proposals for the system, asking that it be portable and easy to use and maintain. Companies from as far away as California, North Carolina and Ohio have replied.

The bids were received before Tuesday's meeting but Stambaugh was not prepared to make a recommendation.

"Are you thinking of extending this to students?" asked board member B. Marie Byers.

"There is that possibility as well," Stambaugh replied.

The badges may be formatted to include bar codes or a magnetic strip. For students, the cards eventually could be used to check out library books or pay for lunches, board members suggested.

The purpose is to protect students and personnel, Bartlett said. "If there was a person who was not an employee in the building, the employees would know that person on sight," he said.

Once the initial database is compiled, the imaging system will become part of the hiring process. It will be used routinely to make cards for substitutes and new employees and replace lost cards. Cards will be collected from employees leaving the system.

"It does require dedicated efforts to maintain it," Stambaugh said.

School Board Vice President Paul Bailey said some people have refused to participate in similar identification systems for religious reasons. Executive Director of Support Services William McKinley said some people believe a badge is a display of extreme vanity.

The board took no action on the proposal but none opposed it. Bartlett confirmed the badges may be used for students in the future.

"We would get to the students eventually. That's the next step," he said.

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