Ins and Outs of Smartpass

Daniel Biniecki, Managing Editor

The school year started with a new school safety measure enabled on the first day: the new electronic pass system titled SmartPass. 

The most widely used features available to students are the bathroom passes, passes to different locations in the building and to allow a student to request to go see another teacher. The faculty are also promoting the final destination pass that sends a notification to students, which is why it is important to turn on notifications if you haven’t already done so.

“[SmartPass] provides an alternative to the paper pass system,” Manhattan High School Principal Michael Dorst said. “With what we saw with the loss of student engagement, we saw a higher rate of students staying in the restrooms for an hour and sometimes longer than that during the pandemic that we didn’t see in the past.” 

Dorst said that there were a lot of students that were on task but the amount that were not was too noticeable but not just at Manhattan High School but also at the middle schools. 

“Time limits are also a guide for somebody to say ‘I need to get back to my class,’” Dorst said. “One of the reasons we adopted it was because we saw a large increase of student disengagement from not being in class.

Although students found the system confusing and “weird” at the beginning of the year, it’s becoming more accepted. However, Dorst’s team is still adapting the process as needed.

“I think the time limit should also be evaluated,” he said. “Part of the evaluation is listening to the student body.”
Dorst explained how these problems with student engagement in classes qualified them to use their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III funds. While the middle schools used their At Risks funds, at the high school level it was written into MHS Esser III funds. 

“SmartPass was just under $6,000,” Dorst said. “We received a volume discount because we have so many students but I believe it was a 20 percent discount on top of the 6,000.” 

At about $2.99 per student, with the 20 percent discount the school paid just under $5,000 dollars for Smartpass. The system was purchased for 2,000 students because MHS has students coming and going. 

“I believe SmartPass is doing what we want it to do,” Dorst said “I believe it’s allowed a simple program to convey the clear expectations of when somebody is requested to leave a room or they request to leave a room for a multitude of reasons.” 

Due to the increased amount of school violence across the country there’s a regulation that schools need to know where their students are on campus at all times to keep them safe.

“Even though the SmartPass system is complicated, all it does is record behaviors that we want students to avoid,” Dorst said. “I’ve met with a handful of students who want to express their frustration with SmartPass and I’ve listened to the frustration and shared our motivation to adopt it. It doesn’t mean that we won’t be interested in the feedback, I think we need the feedback to improve or have any suggestions for an alternative to SmartPass.”