The Niagara Gazette (Niagara Falls, NY)
By Nate Beutel
Monday Aug 22, 2011
WHEATFIELD — It’s going to get a whole lot easier for board members, school personnel, community members and yes — even members of the media — to get their hands and eyes on board of education materials from the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District.
The board is currently looking at investing in BoardDocs, a paperless governance website.
The website allows organizations to significantly improve the way they create and manage packets, access information and conduct meetings. According to N-W’s Director of Technology and Training Mary Ann Buch, all board members will be given a district laptop at meetings to allow them to use the website, which will also be projected on screens for the public to view.
Off-site access will be available 24 hours a day to all members of the community with board members and school personnel receiving user names and passwords to protect executive issues. Hard copies of all agendas and information will still be made available, the board said.
The cost of the website will be $2,700 per year. There will also be a one-time implementation fee of $1,000. This is in comparison to the $6,962 the district currently spends on agenda preparation and distribution.
Buch said the cost of the website for the first year could possibly be covered through the use of leftover software grant money the district received.
Board president Steve Sabo, a sixth-grade teacher in North Tonawanda, said the software has been a success in that district. Niagara Falls has also praised the website in the past.
“I think it’s a great idea,” board member Chris Peters said. “It’s saving money and it makes things more accessible.”
In other news as last week’s board worksession:
n The board discussed the absence of its “Twilight” program for at-risk students within the district. The program, which was cut from this year’s school budget, allowed for students to complete their schoolwork at a schedule that better fit their lives.
According to data provided by the district, 11 students graduated from the program this year, helping the district’s graduation rate rise from 93 to 95 percent. As a result of eliminating the program, Militello said 11 students have decided not to enroll in school and thus the school’s graduation rate will “go backwards.”
Militello did tell the board that he plans to meet with each of those 11 students and their families in an effort to get them re-enrolled in some capacity before the first day of school.
n The board was informed the district now has a pre-kindergarten program in place in all four of its elementary schools. The program, which is district-run and free of cost to 4-year-old district residents, was started three years ago and will include a record 115 children this school year, according to district figures.
The program, which is run in both the morning and afternoon, is provided on a first-come, first-served basis and requires the children to have their own transportation. Assistant superintendent Jen Curci said the school recently received a $25,000 grant to help fund the program.
“I think this is such a great thing for people that can’t afford (independent pre-kindergarten) in this area,” board member Chris Peters said.