Washougal School Board to go paperless

District cites efficiency, environmental friendliness in its decision

Washougal School Board members receive instruction on their new iPad2 devices from technology director Lester Brown, right. It is anticipated that the board will transition to completely paperless meetings within the next two months.

Instead of sifting through approximately 70 pages of documents during meetings, Washougal School Board members will be able to access needed information in seconds.

The district recently purchased five iPad2 devices for all five school board members at a cost of $3,833. It will cost the district approximately $530 more the first year than the traditional paper method, but will save $2,771 the next year, and the same amount the following year.

The factors in the decision to purchase the iPads were to become more efficient and earth-friendly, to integrate technology into board meetings, and to save staff time.

“We are forced to do more with less and we are always trying to keep our resources as close to the classroom as possible,” said Dawn Tarzian, superintendent. “By reducing the time it takes to get ready for our board meetings, our staff time at the central office can be more efficient.”

The School Board had an iPad training session during its most recent meeting. Members will continue to be provided with paper documents until they have learned how to use the device.

“It is anticipated that all board members will have moved to the electronic only version in the next two months or so,” Tarzian said.

She added that the district would continue to keep a paper record of all meeting documents for its public records.

Blaine Peterson, School Board president, said familiarizing himself with the iPad was a learning process.

“I think most of us are getting it,” he said. “Some are quicker than others. I think going paperless is a good idea. We get 70 pages of documents to review, and it is much nicer to have them in an electronic format.”

The Camas School District has been paperless for about a year and board members use their own personal electronic devices.

Superintendent Mike Nerland said the advantages of going paperless are reduced paper consumption, and less staff time spent copying and assembling documents.

“Paperless board meetings also provide a more effective means to communicate with the public than when each packet was prepared by hand,” he said. “Patrons can easily access the board’s agenda and supporting documents online.”