Steamboat School Board swaps paper for iPads

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— The Steamboat Springs School Board is set to become the second local public body to swap paper board meeting packets for iPads.

Superintendent Brad Meeks said Monday that the school district has purchased iPad 2 tablet computers for its five school board members and is working to move the district’s agenda system online.

He said the board likely would begin using its iPads at its Oct. 17 meeting.

“I’ve found that going paperless is a lot more efficient,” Meeks said, noting that the school district he led in Farmington, Minn., used the same electronic system to which Steamboat soon will migrate. “In my opinion, it’s also a good opportunity for the board to be a role model in their work by using this new technology.”

Meeks said the school district purchased eight second-generation iPads for $499 each that will be distributed to all five board members as well as to administrative assistant Deb Ginesta, Finance Director Dale Mellor and Human Resources Director Judy Harris.

Meeks said the district plans to spend about $5,000 of its capital fund on the iPads and the accompanying software board members will need to conduct paperless meetings.

School board agendas and their supporting documents no longer will be printed. Instead, packets will be uploaded to BoardBook, an online resource that will allow members of the public and the school board to download the entirety of the agenda packets before board meetings.

A subscription to BoardBook will cost the school district $2,000 annually, Meeks said.

“With this new system, our meeting materials will be more accessible to our community,” he said.

Ginesta said Monday that the switch would save her the about three hours a month it takes to put the board packets together for each meeting.

She said the three reams of paper she uses each month to print packets for the board, district administrators and principals also will be saved with the use of iPads.

“I wear lots of hats, and this gives me more time to focus on the other parts of my job,” Ginesta said. “I also like the idea of not wasting so much of that paper. (The board) looks at it during the meeting, and then they throw it away.”

Board member Brian Kelly said he’s looking forward to the switch.

“I think it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s not just the paper. It’s the labor and time of preparing the board books and the time we spend dropping them back off that we save. Now we’ll just get an email with everything we need.”

In a similar effort to cut down on paper usage, Steamboat Springs City Council members were provided second-generation iPads earlier this month.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email ScottFranz@SteamboatToday.com

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