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School district to auction off unused clear backpacks

June 12, 2022 GMT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina school district plans to auction off 46,000 unused clear backpacks as it tries to recover money it spent under a plan for increased security in schools.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district spent almost $500,000 on the backpacks for high school students. Critics, however, said little to no research has proven that the backpacks can help stop weapons at the door. The backpacks ultimately were not used after school officials were surprised to find many of them had a warning label about cancer-causing chemicals while unpacking them.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Board of Education is expected to approve selling the backpacks and other surplus property via online bids.

“After exhausting options for return and resell, the superintendent’s recommendation to the Board of Education on Tuesday is dispersion of the inventory in surplus auction,” district spokeswoman Cassie Fambro said in a statement Saturday.

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Over two years, the district plans to spend millions to add employees and support programs, and increase the number of social workers, counselors and psychologists in schools, according to a special report published in January by the Observer.

At least 30 guns were found on district campuses during the 2021-22 academic year.

Last week, an Observer analysis found the district saw a decrease in the second half of the school year in the number of guns found on campuses. Many attribute the improvement to the placement of body scanners at some high schools to detect weapons and wider use of an anonymous reporting app by students.