Tahoe-Truckee school board goes digital
The Tahoe-Truckee school board met twice this month as is its custom, but the trustees relied on accessing reports online instead of plowing through thick stacks of staff reports that cost the district thousands of dollars to prepare over the course of a year.
Since their Dec. 5 meeting, the five elected trustees have accessed all documents, made motions and voted electronically.
“The board believes that strong two-way communication is extremely important in building consensus and improving our public education system,” said board Trustee Bill Kraus in an e-mail interview. “The board also strongly supports the use of technology as a tool to work more efficiently.”
According to an electronic survey conducted online this year, districtwide communication was a high priority for parents. Although a majority of parents thought there was sufficient communication through written and electronic means, over 30 percent did not feel they were well informed on issues and decisions that could affect their children.
Kraus said he feels the e-tools further democracy by disseminating information more widely with less effort.
The meeting software costs the district $10,900 annually, said Executive Assistant Milan Slikkerveer in an e-mail exchange. And the five laptops provided to the board for meeting use were already part of the inventory, she said.
Slikkerveer prepared a cost analysis of meeting booklets last year, and found the district was paying $7,300 annually to assemble the packets.
Kraus said the new technology is also ecologically sound.
“[The] software used by the board not only makes it extremely easy for the public to access all the public docs we are privy to, simply by using a Web browser, but also is a ‘green’ solution that avoids the cost and waste of printing out all this material on paper,” Kraus said.
With the district’s board meetings not broadcast, the public will still have to attend in person to witness the board’s actions. But Kraus said the new system will include information that was never available online before. It can be accessed by people anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
The directors vote online, but the public is not able to monitor their voting record through use of the new software. The public will still have to access that information through the meeting minutes, Slikkerveer said.