Schools implant tracking devices in student IDs

Schools implant tracking devices in student IDs
Stock photo of an RFID tag

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - What if you could pinpoint your student's location at school?

It will be reality at two San Antonio schools next year. The school district has approved a tracking device for students.

For about $10 to $15, a student ID will act like a GPS for teachers and administrators.

"Every parent wants us to know where their child is at school," said spokesman Pascual Gonzalez.

The 1,200 Cougars at Jones Middle School are about to get tagged.

"It's going to give us the opportunity to track our students in the building," said Wendy Reyes, principal at Jones Middle School.

The Northside Independent School District is piloting a program in the fall at Jones and at Jay High School. It's a program that tracks a student's movement through the halls and classrooms by radio frequency technology.

"They may have been in the nurse's office, or the counselor's office, or vice principal's office, but they were marked absent from the classroom because they weren't sitting in the class," says Reyes. "It will help us have a more accurate account of our attendance."

And attendance is everything. The district loses $175,000 a day in state funding because of tardy or absent kids. Tracking the ones who just didn't make it to first period may be a big payoff.

And the radio-frequency identification technology - often called RFID - chip promises to be student user-friendly, too.

"Not just locating a student, but also checking out books from the library, getting food out of the cafeteria, access to a computer lab, etcetera," Gonzalez said.

"I'm excited. It's almost like having a college ID again," Reyes said.

Despite a start-up cost of more than half a million dollars, NISD officials say the chips, implanted in the students ID badges, will pay for themselves.

The district bean-counters expect to gain more than $250,000 in attendance revenue from the state, and $1.2 million from Medicaid, because the district will be tracking special-needs kids, too.

But "Big Brother" has his limitations, because the tag can only track students within the walls of the buildings on campus or on special-needs buses.