GLENWOOD | Brookwood District 167 took steps to secure the safety of its students at Monday's board meeting.
Officials approved the purchase of both background check software and fingerprinting equipment to be used on-site.
"We're bringing the technology. We've got to catch up," Superintendent Valorie Moore said. "We know we live in a different world now, and we're going to protect our children."
The board approved the $6,400 purchase of Raptor software and $7,490 to buy fingerprinting equipment from iTouch Biometrics.
With Raptor, school visitors will have driver's licenses or identification cards swiped at the main office. Raptor then runs an immediate scan of local and national sex offender registries. It also checks for custody issues to ensure that a visitor is legally allowed to remove a child from school.
The system then prints a badge for visitors to wear while at the school with their name and photo. The system is already in use in several local school systems, including Homewood-Flossmoor. Director of Technology Alex Trakas gave the board a presentation on the software.
"I like web-based solutions because we don't have to host them. They're backed up, and the data is there for us all the time," Trakas said. "It also ensures that we have a connection to a national database."
The fingerprinting equipment is a long-term cost-cutting measure for the district, Moore said. All employees and volunteers are required by Illinois law to be fingerprinted as part of routine background checks. Brookwood District 167 currently pays $50 per fingerprinting to an outside vendor but being able to do it in-house will cut that cost to approximately $35, Trakas said. The district spent about $2,300 last year and about $1,500 thus far this year on background checks.
"What we're doing is cutting out the middle man with this process," Moore said.
Trakas said the process would also be more efficient. The district will purchase the machine, a laptop to run the scans and the software that will run through state police and FBI databases and sex offender registries.
"We want to be sure that all our kids can be safe," Moore said. "We know, in doing this, that the kids will be safe."
School faculty and staff will not be scanned, but background checks will continue to be done during the hiring process for all new employees.
Moore said Brookwood District 167 is looking into other, more costly methods of checking on staff and substitute teachers. Those options will be brought to the board once her office completes its research.