Swipe K-12, Though Flawed, Improves Security

Kayla Lynn Cossaboon, Staff Writer

Almost one full year in, there is still a lot of controversy and disagreement around the new scanning system. While some like the new security, others believe the new scanning system has made it difficult and more complicated to enter the building than how they entered the school in the past few years. 

“I don’t like it because there’s always so many crowded lines and too many people around to scan,” said junior John Fania. Many students had similar complaints. 

Most students call this system the “scanners,” but the official name for it is The Swipe K12 System. Before the system was brought to our school, students would show administrators their IDs for verification proof to enter the building. The administration soon realized this wasn’t the safest, nor was it the best, way for teachers to know if a student belongs in the building or not. 

“The scanning system at the front door helps us know who’s exactly in the building,” said assistant principal James Troutman. “If teachers were just taking attendance we could never be too sure if a kid is absent because they are at home sick or they are skipping.” 

Knowing when students get to school or which students are in the building at the right time is a very important factor for administrators to know. 

Conversations about a better attendance system have been spoken about over the years at Norristown High, but the issue of not having enough money to invest or purchase a new one has been holding back the school district. Administrators as well were worried that they were going to spend the money they did have on something that didn’t fit well with the school system that was already in place for attendance.

When assistant principal Nicole Vanbuskirk, transferred to Norristown at the beginning of last year, she felt uncomfortable with the fact she didn’t know where a student was within the school grounds, so she arranged a meeting with teachers, I.T, and other assistant principals about this situation. 

“Since this was a conversation teachers had started years ago they were on board to talk about this conversation again since they had a newer person who had a fresh idea,” said Vanbuskirk

The discussion surrounding the Swipe K12 system began in August 2021 before the school year had started. After looking at different competing companies, the district found that the Swipe K12 system had met its expectations the best.

The system was introduced to Norristown Area High School in the spring of 2022. Operations started by putting the scanners in the entrances to get a feel of the new system. Soon after witnessing that bringing scanners to the school was a good idea, they made it so that students had to scan their ID to enter the lunch room, which addressed students skipping into lunches that were not theirs.

“We think of the lunch room as a school within a school,” said Troutman. “So we want students to scan to know who’s supposed to be where and at what time. Think of it as taking attendance for a class that has over 500 students.”

The cafeteria is a very popular place for students to be throughout school hours. There are students who have friends at the next lunch so they try to stay back and sneak in. The K12 system helps the administrators keep track of where a student should or shouldn’t be. 

“What was happening last year, we had a lot of students who interloped into other lunches when they were supposed to be in class,” said Vanbuskirk. 

Unfortunately, not a lot of staff members enjoy how the K12 system works with E-school. The E-school system makes it difficult for teachers to take attendance just once. Taking attendance frustrates the staff due to the fact they have to take attendance twice per class. 

“It becomes an inconvenience from a teacher’s standpoint when they already took attendance. Then if a student comes into the class 5 minutes late then the teacher has to stop what they were doing to change that student’s attendance,” said math teacher Nicholas Perich. 

Some staff at Norristown spoke about how we should have scanners on classroom doors as well. They believe it is more of a convenience to know where a student is within the building. There are many schools in Pennsylvania that have a system to enter classes, nurses’ offices, guidance, as well as bathrooms. They believe that doing this is better for the students’ safety and the safety of the school itself. 

“If we had a system in our classrooms then it would give the teachers more time to teach their students,” said Perich.

Although some staff believes that it would be easier for taking attendance and safety, the school district does not intend to make that big of a change. Scanning into classrooms would not totally fix the problem and would bring up other concerns. 

“Here at Norristown I don’t see us in any way going that far,” said Vanbuskirk. “That’s a lot for everybody, it’s a lot of computer systems watching students and it makes people uncomfortable knowing they are being watched every move.”

A newer improved system that connects with K12 scanners is going to be introduced to the school district over the summer to make it easier for students and teachers in the upcoming years. Administrators feel the need to make this improvement for school days to go smoother and be more relaxed. 

“We are shifting to a new student management system called Infinite Campus,” said Vanbuskirk. “And that’s going to be a whole district-wide thing over the summer. Students will get training when everyone gets back for the school year 2023-2024.” 

The Swipe K12 system has changed the atmosphere of our school’s safety and security. Students scanning their IDs has been convenient but slightly difficult for some students, teachers, and administrators, but it keeps track of who arrives at what time, and where someone is within the school. There are high expectations for Infinite Campus to improve upon the systems already in place and cooperate better with both students and staff.