SAN ANTONIO – The Edgewood district is bringing old-school neck badges into the digital age.
About 15,000 students and staff members now have ID badges that might hold the key to school security.
During school hours, the badges can open building doors that are locked to outsiders – but they’re more than just electronic keys.
"What kind of adventure do you think they're going to get into right now?” a kindergarten teacher asks her class at Stafford Elementary.
When students settle in for story time, the books often come from Linda Gottman’s library.
"The children make the job worth it,” she says. “That's why I do what I do. I also love books but I love my kids."
So keeping kids safe is on her mind, especially because her library is just steps away from the school’s front door.
"I can see people walk in probably before they hit the office,” Gottman says.
And now, when she hears the beep, she knows the person coming through the doors belongs there – because that person is swiping an Edgewood district ID.
"They're not radio frequency so we don't track or monitor the students' whereabouts,” Edgewood ISD spokesman Roland Martinez says.
He says students use them as an all-access pass to get through the lunch line, check out a library book and visit the school nurses.
"It's another foolproof measure for us to make sure we're giving the right medication,” a Stafford nurse says.
But Gottman says the badges are also crucial in emergencies.
"Times that we have fire drills, there are times that I have children with me and they're not in their classrooms,” she says. “So I can quickly say, 'Ok, I've got this child, this child, this child.' And they're accounted for."
Eventually, Edgewood will use the badges on school buses.
"The drivers would be able to scan the card when the student boards the bus and when they leave the bus so we can see where they're boarding and at what stop they're dropped off,” Martinez says.
Gottman says she’s grateful for the extra layer of security.
"We need to know who's in our schools,” she says.
The district distributed the badges on campuses about a month ago.
The whole system cost nearly $50,000, including the printers, software and lanyards.