BENTON CITY -- Kiona-Benton City Elementary School will pilot a new verification and tracking system next school year aimed at making sure staff and volunteers aren't a threat to students.
The school board Monday night approved spending $1,600 to install and subscribe to Raptor, a visitor and personnel management system. Board members said the system, if it works at the grade school, could help to improve student safety.
The board saw a presentation and demo of the system at a recent conference of the Washington State School Directors Association.
Special readers scan a driver's license and compare it to multiple databases, such as those that track sex offenders.
Board Chairman Tim Cook said the current plan is to test Raptor out at the elementary school, where it will be applied to all staff, but also to parents who volunteer in the building.
It will cost the district more money to expand the service to the other schools but there are a variety of features and benefits to the service, board members said.
Advanced models of the service can issue ID badges to students and staff, which can be detected at special readers installed in exterior doors, helping track people during a fire drill or if a student cuts class and leaves school.
The system also can warn school staff if a parent or other adult attempts to pick up a student but doesn't have clearance to do so.
"It makes sure our kids are safe with anyone who comes into our schools," said Vice Chairwoman Leslie Johnson.
Also Monday night, school officials announced the district's kindergarteners will have a graduation ceremony after all.
Bernardo Castillo, Ki-Be Elementary School principal, said the ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. June 10, right after the school's fifth-grade promotion ceremony.
Parents were told earlier this spring that time constraints wouldn't allow time for the kindergarten graduation, upsetting them and their students.
Several parents thanked the board for looking into the matter and for helping to get it back on track.
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