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Kokomo High School implements scanning ID cards to focus on education

from 11/12/09
Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2009 1:00 am | Updated: .
By Peter Adelsen staff writer | 0 comments

At first it is only a few. Soon, a rush of students makes their way to the door for open lunch.

This may sound like a typical day at Kokomo High School, but there is a change from the way this was done in the past.

Five weeks ago, the school began scanning the ID cards of the junior- and senior-level students to have a more accurate view on who has left and come back to the school during the 40-minute lunch period.

When the students leave for open lunch, the students pass through one of three scanners to alleviate the rush. When the students return, one or two scanners are there because the students trickle in at a few at a time, said Dave Barnes, Kokomo-Center Township Consolidated School Corp.’s public relations consultant.

The school purchased three scanners at $1,000 a piece at the beginning of the school year, superintendent Chris Himsel said. The scanners were paid for by technology funds designated for the school and from a competitive grant. If it were not for having the extra money, the school would not have purchased the scanners, he said.

These devices are similar to scanning a barcode for checking out library books or getting in to a Pacers game with a ticket.

Excluding when this first came into effect, the scanning has gone pretty smoothly. Students only wait for as much a minute to as few as seconds when leaving the school for lunch, Barnes said.

This technology was first introduced to the school by state of Indiana school safety trainers, Himsel said.

“One of the practices that they really encourage schools to do is to think about ‘how do you track when students leave during the school day and when they return,’ ” Himsel said. “ Whether it's for a doctor's appointment, whether it's for service learning opportunities, whether it's leaving to come and return to the career Center, that there needs to be a way of tracking when did the kid leave and when did he return.”

With the school’s practice of open lunch, the district found that it would be best to try out the scanning devises.

“If a student is late, we know it immediately,” he said. “We can go and check if they have a doctor’s appointment, if the student is a truant, or is having car troubles.”

The school is using the devise for the safety of its students and to allow more time in the classroom learning, instead of the teacher taking time out to ask for attendance after the lunch period.

“I reported my attendance when it fit within my lesson plan,” he said. “I wasn't going to disrupt the flow of education to fit attendance, but I was going to do my responsibility, which was to take attendance. And I built into my lesson plans a time for me to do that.

“But, one thing that I always did as a teacher is that attendance never too precedence over helping a kids who had a question. So sometimes I may not get to attendance, I may have intended to have that done at the 10-minute mark of my class, but it may not get done until the very end of the class, because my job is to help students first.”

If the program works well, Himsel said, it may expand to scanning for doctors’ appointments, instead of having the students sign-in and sign-out.

“We are dealing with a school with 2,000 students, not a school of 200 students,” he said. “And sometimes with just sheer volume you just need something to help you out.”

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