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Wondering where your child’s school bus might be, and if your youngster is even on board?

A pilot program of something called SMART tag is currently under way at Chute Middle School, to provide such information.

Superintendent Devon Horton says that Dawes, Oakton and Walker elementary schools will have pilot programs later this month, and “we anticipate rollout across the district in mid-February.”

In a message on the district’s website, Horton says that all students who ride a District 65 bus to or from school will be given a SMART tag bus rider card. Students will scan the card when they get on or off the bus.

Beginning in March, Horton says, there will be a parent portal, which has alerts on when the child’s bus will arrive at the bus stop, a riding history for the student and a live map of the student’s bus when it is on the way and while the child is on the bus.

Horton says parents/guardians will only have access to information about their own child and bus route, and the bus rider cards themselves do not have any tracking mechanism.

“Only the bus itself,” he says, “has a GPS system installed.”

At the schools, Horton says a Hall Pass Visitor Management System will be implemented, which “helps to monitor and track visitors, including parents/caregivers, volunteers, vendors and other visitors.”

Horton says this system is similar to one already in place at Evanston Township High School.

Upon entry to the building, visitors will be asked to present identification such as a driver’s license or state ID. For those without such documentation, Horton says “individuals may provide school staff with their first and last name and date of birth.”

The Hall Pass system, Horton adds, “checks visitor informaton with an integrated, comprehensive database of registries for every state, the Distict of Columbia, and Interpol as well as Orders of Portection within our student information system.”

Hall Pass does not, he says, check immigration or citizenship status.

Approved visitors will wear a printed name badge which has their photo. The badge has to be returned as the individual leaves the building.

Horton says these new systems are examples of how, over the past year, District 65 has been “very intentional about making investments to further enhance safety across our schools.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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  1. I would far rather see the money being spent on these ineffectual measures be spent on actually helping students learn and supporting our teachers. On the other hand, this is money that would otherwise be set on fire with yet another six figure administrator or DEI consultant.

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