By Dona S. Dreeland
Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Residents now will be able to see real-time votes of their elected school board members in West Jefferson Hills, by watching online.
The voting feature through BoardDocs was used for the first time last month. As school board members voted during a public meeting using their iPads, Tracy Harris, the district's finance director and board secretary, clicked a key to send the votes to the online agenda.
“It was exciting to watch the vote — boom, boom, boom,” said Patty Zeleznick, secretary to the superintendent and office manager, who saw the votes appear on her home computer.
Board President Tony Angotti watched on the large screen in the cafeteria.
“We certainly would love to have the community attend our meetings in person, but we certainly understand the busy schedule that everyone has,” he said, “so if we can bring the meeting into their homes live, that is a great thing for our community.”
He encourages residents to add the BoardDocs link to their computers and cell phones.
“With this feature everyone who wants to know what is happening in the district, the information is only a click away for their review,” Angotti said.
The district had been using BoardDocs Pro since 2009, but without the live voting option. This year's $9,000 cost will decrease to $8,000 because of a discount through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. At present, 68 districts and educational associations in Pennsylvania use BoardDocs services, with only a few using the online voting, according to Emerald Data Solutions of Marietta, Ga., which developed the product in 2000.
BoardDocs allows organizations to manage board packets, access information and conduct meetings with less paper.
Meeting notes, announcements, school policies and other information now can be shared via the district's website. The program saves time when searches must be done.
With such an online archive, items are just a click or two away. Also, information on reoccurring events can be copied, edited and used again.
“After a voting meeting, everything's out there on BoardDocs for the public to see,” said Harris, including attachments pertaining to motions. “And it's easy to notify the board about updates.”