Beginning Sept. 1, visitors to Virginia Beach City Public Schools will have their driver’s licenses scanned and run against state and national sex-offender registries.
The district will employ new software from visitor-management technology company, Raptor Technologies, in all of its 86 schools beginning this school year, the city’s public school board learned in a Tuesday meeting. The system will replace the “pen and paper” sign-in system currently used by the schools. Each visitor will now hand over an ID card with a photo and birth date that will be scanned and used to create a visitor’s badge. The system will keep the logs, which document the visitor’s destination and length of stay.
“We’re just doing this as an added layer of security,” Eileen Cox, chief media and communications officer, said in a phone interview.
The district piloted the program in 2011 in three of its schools. However, it wasn’t feasible to launch the software in all of the schools amid the recession, Cox said. The district’s year-end budget for 2015, or the amount left at the end of the year after expenses, was enough to cover the $66,220 cost, which included hardware, badges and scanning technology.
The annual subscription for the the service is $40,000, and covers all 86 schools, Cox said. Last school year, the district had between 30,000 and 40,000 volunteer visitors. Many volunteers come from partners of the school. For example, members of the military have come to support Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students, and STIHL Inc. employees have visited high-school students to discuss internships.
The Raptor software will also log where visitors are supposed to be. This way, in the event of an emergency, people can be accounted for and evacuated if needed, Cox said.
Under state law, sex offenders are not permitted on school property, according to Cox.
Still, other nearby school districts already have systems similar to Raptor in place, including Chesapeake, according to Cox.
“We have overwhelmingly heard from our parents, they want us to be taking every measure we can to ensure student safety and the safety of employees and staff,” Cox said. “We’re doing this in the interest of safety.”