Money

Texas Schools Make Money with Electronic Tracking Of Students

| by Michael Allen

Following the lead of two other school districts in the state, San Antonio, Texas’ Northside Independent School District is planning a program that tracks students using transmitters inside identification cards, according to The San Antonio Express-News.

Next year, ID cards with Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID) technology will be given to students at John Jay High School, Anson Jones Middle School, and all special education students who use district buses; about 6,290 students total.

Because state funding for Texas school districts is tied to attendance numbers, the I.D. cards represent a big revenue stream. In theory, the I.D. cards will help keep more accurate figures on attendance.

Northside Independent School District Deputy Superintendent Brian Woods said: “Any increase in weighted average daily attendance comes commensurate with state funding.”

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According to Woods, if the program is implemented system-wide, an increase of .5 percent in attendance levels would bring the district $2 million to $2.5 million more each year.

Woods understands questions about privacy and security, but claims the I.D. system is secure: “The data itself is maintained on a server that we own. The system itself is password accessed. The technology itself is not new, and there is another school district that has used it with a lot of success. But I think as people take the time to understand what we’re trying to accomplish, that the comfort level will go up.”