Some Union Middle School students may be fingerprinted before they eat lunch at school.

The Union R-XI School Board Monday approved a pilot program to purchase biometric fingerprint scanners that could be utilized as an alternative payment option for students who lose their student IDs.

The students would not be forced to use the scanners, but it will be an option if the students don’t have the IDs that are used to prepurchase school lunches.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Judy Stivers said she previously worked in a school district with the scanners which were used to save parents money.

“Some parents have kids who often lose their ID cards,” she said. Schools replace lost cards, but charge a small fee.

The district will purchase two scanners for the pilot program, which will cost the district roughly $285 each. There will be a $300 license fee and $300 setup fee.

Board member Ron Sohn said some parents won’t want their students to use the scanners because of security concerns.

Students won’t be forced to use the scanners, Superintendent Steve Bryant said.

He added that the program is voluntary and students will be given the option to use the biometric fingerprint scanners instead of their student IDs.

Bryant explained that now there is a swipe card process in which prepaid meals are purchased using student IDs.

He noted that some students may prefer to use the scanners because they won’t have to keep track of their ID cards in order to purchase lunch.

Under the new method, student fingerprints will be scanned into a system that would only be used for the purchase of lunches.

“I want to stress that the fingerprints won’t be stored and that this is 100 percent voluntary,” Bryant told The Missourian.

Board member Virgil Weideman suggested the district seek parental permission and establish a policy outlining who would have access to the fingerprint data stored in the system.

He also questioned if the cost of the scanners would be made up in labor costs.

“I doubt it,” Weideman said.

According to Bryant, if the program is successful at the middle school, it might be used at other schools within the district.