At last night’s Guilford County Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Sharon Contreras proposed identification badges for students that they would swipe upon entering and leaving school:

It’s a measure aimed at student safety, she and chief operations officer Scott McCully told the Guilford County Board of Education.

McCully outlined a system that would eventually require students to swipe their cards upon entering school buildings and buses. The idea, he said, is that schools and parents could track whether or not a student had swiped into a certain school or bus. They would eventually be interested in adding swipes for leaving schools and buses too.

Speaking after the meeting, McCully gave an example scenario of a power outage or water main break at a school that required a school evacuation. The card swipes, he said, could help school officials identify whether there are students who need to be accounted for. At least for the time being, the cards would not include a chip, so any student tracking would be based on their last swipe, not necessarily current location.

Of course the question that always surrounds school system initiatives is how to pay for it. Contreras is proposing using a “special fund” created with money the school system received in a settlement. Cost estimates come in at $587,371 to launch the program and $175,000 additionally each year.

Board member Byron Gladden had an interesting angle during discussion and debate:

Gladden said he thought identification cards could be helpful to students in situations outside of school, such as if a student were missing or lost and couldn’t manage to remember parent or school contact information.

He suggested that carrying a student identification could help students develop a habit and mindset of carrying ID, and that would be a good thing, especially given racial gaps in who carries ID as an adult, and efforts struck down in the courts that would have tied the right to vote in North Carolina to presenting a government-issued ID at the polls.

I’m not sure exactly what Gladden meant, but I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that if anything students would learn that possessing and presenting ID in most any situation is not that big a deal.

Stay tuned—the board will discuss further and receive public comment before making a decision.