School workers may clock in with a wave of their hands

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 29, 2002

[03/29/02]Next year, public school employees here could be clocking in by waving their hands over a scanning device.

The Vicksburg Warren School District’s board of trustees voted Thursday to take bids on a biometric time- and attendance-tacking system that reads the geometry of employees’ palms and logs their hours into a computer.

“It’s not an inexpensive system,” Superintendent Donald Oakes said. “But it’ll be a lot cheaper than what we’re paying on these overtime lawsuits.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Schools here and statewide have paid back overtime to employees as a result of claims that the employees worked two jobs that totaled more than 40 hours. For example, a bus monitor might also be a cafeteria employee. Under former practice, pay for each job was separate. Today, time-and-a-half is paid for extra hours. More cases are pending.

The scanner system would do away with much of the paperwork surrounding time sheets, and allow supervisors to monitor their employees’ hours, Oakes said.

It would not affect teachers, administrators or other salaried employees.

The new hand readers cost an estimated $2,000 each, and it would take two to outfit most schools, Oakes said. They will initially be used by staff, excluding teachers and bus drivers.

“I hope we will look at this very seriously,” said board president Zelmarine Murphy. “It puts a bad taste in my mouth … to go to federal court and be slapped with big bucks. I think this school district has been very generous to its employees.”

The terminals at school facilities would be linked to a central computer, programmed to “recognize” an employees’ palm.

“Hopefully, this will free up the principals,” said Dale McClung, who oversees the district’s finances. “They don’t have time to look at every employee every day and see when they work.”

Oakes said this system would signal an end to the days when school employees worked on an honor system, taking care of their business and going home.

“It’s not the way we have done business in the past,” he said. Oakes said that lawsuits are “really forcing us to do what we should have done years ago … we have to maintain proper records.”

In other matters, the school board:

Elected new officers. Kay Aasand is the new president of the board, John Carlisle the vice-president and Pearline Williams the secretary.

Voted to move kindergarten through fourth grade from six-week to a nine-week grading periods.

“Teachers feel like they can gain more instructional time,” Oakes said. The new nine-week periods will bring the lower grades in line with the rest of the district.

Oakes said this should make report card distribution more convenient.

Approved the 2002-2003 school calendar, which includes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a holiday.

Accepted a bid from Joe Morgan, $190,403.22, for the purchase of land the district owned in Winston County.

Approved various out-of-state travel requests.

Voted to use $16,296 in Title I reallocation money for a summer remediation program.

Voted to use $80,000 from the Workforce Investment Act to purchase Plato software. The software will be used as a tutorial device to teach seniors work readiness skills.