Hallowell Area Schools Implement Rider Tracking Technology on Buses

This week, students at RSU 2 schools will receive RFID cards to record when they get on and off school buses. Cards containing small computer chips will be about the size of a credit or ID card. District leaders see the system as improving security, but at least one parent sees the technology as an invasion of privacy. Michael Ciccarelli is a bus driver at RSU 2 and the father of three students. Through recent training, he learned that buses will soon carry tablets for students to use district-issued cards for the system called Tyler Drive. “Who monitors it, right? Who can hack and get it? Why do they need it?” Ciccarelli said. Superintendent Matt Gilbert says the system was successfully rolled out last year in Monmouth and Richmond, two regions within the district. The system expansion includes buses in Hallowell and Dresden. “We haven’t had any issues, and in fact, we’ve been able to use it to really speed up the process of locating kids when we’ve had situations where a student might be getting on the wrong bus.” Gilbert said. The cards do not track the whereabouts of students, but will record the location where students tap to enter and exit. “As a conservator, I don’t think it’s necessary to track my children. And on the street we track our pets. We don’t need to be tracking my kids,” Ciccarelli said. District officials say the technology is grant-funded and paid for with federal coronavirus relief funds. It was approved by the school board and the superintendent with a total price of $45,000. When asked about the opt-out, Gilbert says no families have requested it and if concerns arise, they will meet with families individually to discuss it. The feedback to this point, he says, comes from pleased parents. “It has really put parents at ease,” Gilbert said. If a student loses his card, Gilbert said it would be replaced at no cost to families.

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This week, students at RSU 2 schools will receive RFID cards to record when they get on and off school buses.

Cards containing small computer chips will be about the size of a credit or ID card.

District leaders see the system as improving security, but at least one parent sees the technology as an invasion of privacy.

Michael Ciccarelli is a bus driver at RSU 2 and the father of three students.

Through recent training, she learned that buses will soon carry tablets for students to use district-issued cards for the system called Tyler Drive.

“Who monitors it, right? Who can hack and get it? Why do they need it? Ciccarelli said.

Superintendent Matt Gilbert says the system was successfully rolled out last year in Monmouth and Richmond, two regions within the district.

The system expansion includes buses in Hallowell and Dresden.

“We haven’t had any issues, and in fact, we’ve been able to use it to really speed up the process of locating kids when we’ve had situations where a student might be getting on the wrong bus.” Gilbert said.

The cards do not track the whereabouts of students, but will record the location where students tap to enter and exit.

“As a conservator, I don’t think it’s necessary to track my children. And on the street we track our pets. We don’t need to be tracking my kids,” Ciccarelli said.

District officials say the technology is grant-funded and paid for with federal coronavirus relief funds.

It was approved by the school board and the superintendent with a total price of $45,000.

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When asked about the opt-out, Gilbert says no families have requested it and if concerns arise, they will meet with families individually to discuss it.

The feedback to this point, he says, comes from pleased parents.

“It has really put parents at ease,” Gilbert said.

If a student loses their card, Gilbert said it would be replaced at no cost to families.

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