Petersburg City Schools Goes Paperless to Save Taxpayer Dollars

Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, VA)

Published: September 19, 2010

Petersburg, Va. -- Information about Petersburg schools soon will be just a click away.

School Board members are moving forward with the online initiative BoardDocs to more efficiently serve the community, save money and help the environment.

The School Board likely will begin transitioning to BoardDocs next month to access such files as agendas, documents associated with those agendas, and meeting minutes. Once board members familiarize themselves with the system -- they already have received training on it -- access will be expanded to the public.

"Just as with the paper agendas, certain confidential items in BoardDocs will be available to board members only, not visible to the public," said Cliff Davis, spokesman for Petersburg schools.

Davis added that some paper copies will be printed for the public at board meetings.

Petersburg is the latest school division in the Richmond region to move online with BoardDocs. Chesterfield County implemented it last month to join Henrico and Dinwiddie counties in using the electronic system created by Atlanta-based Emerald Data Solutions.

"The switch to BoardDocs will expand access to School Board documents and policies, use staff time more efficiently and save paper and postage costs," said Shawn Smith, spokesman for Chesterfield County schools. "This is an environmentally friendly component of our dedicated efforts to open, accessible and transparent government."

BoardDocs was created in 2000, and the software is used by more than 300 governing bodies across the country. The program cost Petersburg $3,700, and there is a recurring fee of $2,700 per year. The school division estimates it will save $15,000 to $20,000 a year by going paperless, said School Board Chairman Kenneth L. Pritchett.

"It's going to be a much better and easier process," Pritchett said. "The biggest thing is the cost savings. I think taxpayers will be happy about that."

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