Going paperless at school board meetings and using an electronic system for agendas, presentations, and other board meeting materials can save school districts time and money.

NJSBA has offered a paperless system to its members for several years, but a change is coming. On July 1, NJSBA will be moving to a new service, which can offer some additional features, including a tool that helps subscribers keep policy manuals updated, and an online service that allows designated district staff to create, draft, and apply updates to policies within the system. This service will be hosted with a new partner, BoardDocs.

Those districts that have not used a paperless meeting system should consider the benefits. Below are a few things board members should know when they’re considering moving to a board management solution, according to Ari Ioannides, Emerald Data Solutions president and BoardDocs chief architect.

How much change is to be expected?

Board members and administrators perceive adopting a board management service as a radical change – like going from a telegraph machine to an iPhone. It’s not that radical. Done right, using a board management service should look like what you’re doing now, just easier. It’s like going from a typewriter to computer for word processing – an easy transition.

Before the widespread use of computers, people had no concept what it was like to use one. We all thought learning to use one would be hard; we were fearful, but we wanted to do it because there was a huge benefit. People are most afraid of using a board management system right before it gets implemented. Training is relatively simple, and after people have been through it, the first thing they say is “why did we wait so long”?

How does a board management system save time and money?

If a district doesn’t have a board management service, it has staff gathering documents and printing out a master copy. The staff members then typically go to scanner and make a PDF. It gets printed, copied, scanned, posted to the website, then bound and shipped out to others. Any changes to the packet make it necessary to start the process over again. If a board meets twice a month, this is done 24 times a year. With a good board management service, the material automatically gets released to board members and everyone else who needs it via the district’s website. A district can see up to $20,000 – $30,000 in cost savings the first year in labor, printing and mailing costs.

How important is data security?

The system’s security must be rock-solid. School boards deal with confidential data  – health information, student discipline, land purchasing and lawsuits – that must, by law, be secured. Data must be encrypted and be maintained on a secure server. With BoardDocs, we believe board documents must be as secure as banking information. Local copies of the data and emails are very insecure. Information always needs to be physically and electronically secured.

What else should board members look for?

Ease of use is a huge consideration.  More than 30,000 board members nationally use BoardDocs.

Serving about 2,000 organizations nationwide, BoardDocs’ services give governing bodies turn-key, electronic solutions for processing virtually any type of governance document, including agenda items, supporting documents, policies, procedures and much more. Their services alleviate the enormous task of assembling, printing, distributing and revising board packets.

BoardDocs is a major supporter of the National School Boards Association, many state school board associations, the Stand-Up-4-Public-Schools campaign, K-12 coding initiatives and many other public education-related causes.

For more information about BoardDocs services, call (800) 407-0141 or visit the website.