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Alabama board of education goes paperless

Albertville City Schools has adopted the use of Apple iPads for its board meetings.

According to Albertville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Frederic Ayer, administrators have considered going paperless for years but hesitated to use full-size laptops. Dr. Ayer believes that iPad will be easier to use by board members and less obtrusive during meetings.

Board members tested the iPad and found it worked well with eBOARD, the board's web-based governance software tool. The school system will be using two of the eBOARD modules for managing meetings and policies online. The school system has calculated the estimated savings in paper and administrative costs to be between $14,000 and $16,000 annually.

eBOARD will allow officials to access meeting agendas with their iPads and record notes. Board members will process agenda items as they are being developed rather than having to read through a lengthy agenda the day before the meeting.

The public will also be able to access meeting agendas and policies via iPads, as well as via traditional computers. According to Dr. Ayer, some of the benefits to staff and public of using the Meetings module include quick access to agenda packets, user-friendly search capability, electronic assignment, and automatic publishing of minutes.

When asked about the use of the Policy Module, Dr. Ayer commented that currently the system’s policy manual is posted online as a single PDF document. In that format there is no search capability and it is unwieldy to update sections. Officials expect to manage policies more effectively with eBOARD's built-in workflow capabilities. The public will be able to find policies by keyword and have access to pending policies for comment.

The board members will receive the iPads during their board retreat in August and expect to have their first paperless meeting in September.