TOWSON, Md. - A total of 108,000 identification cards have been processed, stamped and printed.
All for the start of the school year.
Starting Wednesday, Baltimore County Public Schools will issue the One-Card to returning students.
It’s a multi-million dollar security upgrade education officials hope will make schools not only safer, but more efficient.
“Students will be able to use the card to do a variety of things from checking in to taking out library cards,” said Dale R. Rauenzahn, safety and security executive director for Baltimore County Public Schools.
The card will permit students to enter their school buildings by tapping their card on a computer. It will also allow students to check out library books and track their whereabouts during the day. The cards are the latest in security upgrades for the school system, which last year required all visitors to show ID and pass a background check before entering a school
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A few high schools are piloting the badge with taking attendance.
The implementation of the One-Card system came out of talks among school officials, who were searching for ways to make the school as safe as possible. It comes two years after a student was shot at Perry Hall High School.
Rauenzahn said once school and county leaders agreed to go further with the cards, bids were placed out to start creating the card program.
Scholarchip won the bid. The technology group will be paid $750,000 a year to maintain the card system until 2025.
Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, said identification cards can be a good addition for security as long as they serve more than one function.
“If the school is using them for things like paying for lunches, attendance and library checkouts, then yes, it’s important to have them,” he said. “But many times these badges can lead to a false sense of security.”
Trump said it’s important for schools to invest in the “human” side of safety and ensure teachers are properly trained to use new security systems. All of the increased security comes less than two years after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Conn.
“What happens when a student skips class or loses a card?,” he said. “If you have to pay for a replacement, can they afford it?”
Trump added that schools also need to concentrate on funds for mental health and counseling services.
“Even with the fancy security, health services are always the first to get cut when tightening budgets,” he said.
Rauenzahn said if a card is lost, it will cost $5 to replace it and $1 for a temporary pass.