MTHS starting biometric program

Adam Larck

When school starts at Metamora Township High School in the fall, lunch lines should be moving a bit faster.

This is thanks to the new biometric finger scanning system the school will be implementing.

The program is ran through the Skyward Student Management system, which assistant principal Pete List said was implemented two years ago.

“Skyward is a huge platform that you can plug a lot of different modules into, and one of those modules is their food service module,” List said.

The new system will have students putting their index finger on a scanner to recognize certain characters of the finger to give a unique identification number.

“We don’t store any fingerprints,” List said. “It takes the scan and turns it into a series of numbers. That’s what we’re really trying to emphasize to parents is that it’s not a fingerprint.”

The technology reads three specific points on the finger. Each point is then converted into a specific set of numbers that is unique to each student and staff member in the system.

To be entered into the system, first parents need to set up a student account and put money into it. Money can be put into the account either at the high school office or through an online credit card system that the school is working to implement.

However, the account has another feature for parents as well.

“The parents can not only set up that account, but check that account on a daily basis to see if their student is eating lunch and how much are they eating for lunch,” List said.

The biggest draw for the new system is the reduction of lunch line times.

“One of the pressures we have at lunch is trying to get students through in a timely manner, and the biometric system gets students through much quicker,” List said.

He added that they timed students at other schools that already use the system, and said the lines moved much faster than current lines at Metamora.

The school actually started enrolling returning students toward the end of last school year.

“For the most part it’s been received really well,” List said. “Most of the parents have accepted or asked us to enroll their students.

“I think that parents want as much information as they can get and we’re trying to get out as much information as we can. We understand and actively appreciate the fact that they be concerned that we’re storing fingerprints. I wouldn’t want my kid’s fingerprints stored.”

For parents who don’t want to enroll their students, list said that there will still be a line open that will take cash. In addition, a student account can be set up for students who don’t want to use the scan where cashiers can type their name in, but it is more time consuming List said.

In the future, he added that there are other things the school can use the scanner for.

“I know some other school districts that we went and looked at before we decided to use the biometric, some use it in their library. We haven’t looked at that yet but that’s a possibility,” he said.