Tallmadge Express (Ohio)
February 19, 2012
by Jeremy Nobile | Reporter
Tallmadge -- The Tallmadge City School District began using a new method for disseminating information related to its Board of Education meetings last week.
The Board's Feb. 15 meeting was the first time the district conducted business through BoardDocs, a service that makes all Board documents, including the comprehensive agenda, available entirely online.
The service is intended to promote both transparency and efficiency, said Superintendent Jeff Ferguson.
"This all began with the Board," said Director of Technology Kurt Gwin. "They wanted to achieve a higher level of transparency and make documents, agendas and minutes a little more easily accessible."
BoardDocs is an electronic service that allows for the online filing of governmental documents, eliminating the need for paper copies and allowing for easier access to materials by both school officials and the community.
Stacks of paper formerly sprawled in front of Board members and administrators were replaced with laptops and tablet devices, as each person followed the night's meeting online. The same information also was projected on a screen at the front of the room.
"The Board really wants to lead from the front as it relates to being on the cutting edge and taking a proactive approach to being efficient and going paperless," said Gwin.
The service is provided by Emerald Data Solutions Inc. The BoardDocs subscription costs $2,700 annually.
It cost $3,700 to get up and running this year, which includes a one-time payment of $1,000 for training costs.
Citizens can access BoardDocs through the district's website at www.tallmadgeschools.org by clicking on the "Board of Education" link under the "Administration" tab, and then on the "Meeting Agendas" link on the left side of the page.
A link from there takes users to the BoardDocs page that will list the Board's agendas prior to each meeting and documents related to resolutions and other pertinent business.
Minutes will also be posted on the same site after their transcription. Everything will be archived on the site from here on out.
"The Board recognized this as a way to make that information available anytime, anywhere online," said Gwin.
Another feature of the service is the ability to search all archived information with keywords, including material about faculty.
Ferguson noted how the change will also save money on printing costs.
"It makes it more environmentally friendly as we're able to cut back on the amount of paper that we are producing," he said.
Gwin said he's not sure how many other district's currently use the same service, but he expects it to grow in popularity.
"As other Boards start to see the benefits of making the agendas and minutes more available to the public," said Gwin, "I think it will probably catch on."