This winter, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is rolling out Hall Pass and Smart Tag security software at all schools, Superintendent Devon Horton said in a message to families this week.

Hall Pass is similar to the security platform used for visitors at all the entrances to Evanston Township High School. When visitors arrive at a District 65 school, a safety staff member will ask for a driver’s license or state ID, run a background check through a Hall Pass database and provide them with a badge to wear throughout their time at the school.

Anyone without an ID card can instead provide their full name and date of birth, Horton said. Hall Pass “does NOT check or report on immigration or citizenship status,” he wrote in the announcement.

In addition, Chute Middle School students have already been participating in a pilot program for Smart Tag. Dawes, Oakton, and Walker elementary schools are expected to join the pilot in the coming days, before a districtwide rollout of the software in mid-February, according to Horton.

District 65 students will now scan in and out of the school bus every day through a program called Smart Tag. Credit: Bessie Mbadugha

Smart Tag provides students riding a bus to and from school with a card to scan when they enter and exit the bus every day. That way, parents can use an online portal to track their student’s transit and riding history, Horton said.

“Please note that the student bus rider cards do not contain any type of tracking mechanism, only the bus itself has a GPS system installed,” he wrote to families.

And, in addition to these two software systems, the district also purchased Navigate360 in the fall. Navigate360 is an app and software program that will have an archive of updated photos showing every hallway, door and classroom in district buildings so law enforcement and staff can figure out where to go more quickly in the event of an emergency. 

Back in September, Business Manager Kathy Zalewski told the RoundTable that Navigate360 will cost the district $51,154.00 and the Smart Tag system costs $146,408.25; Hall Pass is billed annually and costs $26,077.50 per year.

The district is “planning to use budget savings and grant funding to cover these costs,” Zalewski said at the time.

District officials did not immediately respond to a request from the RoundTable for confirmation about these costs and payments.

Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

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  1. Our family and several others whose kids were at the same bus stop gave up on the D65 bus tracker a couple years ago because it didn’t seem to offer consistent, accurate information. It’s possible that it has improved. If so, I think they would do better to relaunch the tracker so parents know it works now before adopting a new technology that may have glitches of its own.