The Carroll County Public School District’s heads aren’t in the clouds but its “BoardDocs LT” software is. Information supplied by the District following a training session for Board members on January 24 indicates it is leveraging Cloud-based technology to radically improve its governance processes while saving staff time and taxpayer dollars.
The BoardDocs website describes the software as a “remarkably powerful, easy-to-use service” which will allow the District “to maximize the effectiveness of their board meetings with increased transparency, providing a basis for better and more open communication with the public, while dramatically improving productivity and saving thousands of dollars annually.”
Board Chair Brian Spencer said previously board members would get a Compact Disc (CD) with upcoming meeting information. He said occasionally the discs would get damaged or lost in the mail leaving less time to study before meetings. (A two week lead time on materials to allow for the information to be transferred to CD was required.)
“Now we can change or update information right up to the night of the meeting,” said Spencer. “We can adapt and get almost right up to the meeting. We can get things done more quickly.”
The paperless system features include “Policy Development and Publication and Meeting Minutes Editing.” This allows all subscribers to streamline important policy work. Additionally, BoardDocs LT adds the ability to edit and attach minutes to any meeting. Subscribers can edit minutes from the “Meeting Dashboard” by importing an agenda and simply using the editor function. Once saved, they can then attach a minutes agenda item to a future meeting.
Spencer pointed out less preparation time for information packets increases the amount of time the board has to review agenda information, enabling them to better prepare for meetings. Board members can access BoardDocs from home computers for the evening meetings or use the District’s computers not in use by students or staffers, for instance.
He was also excited about a “MetaSearch” feature where members have access to best practices (policies) from other governing bodies also using the system. He explained this allows them to gain important knowledge about initiatives other governing bodies have considered and implemented by comparison.
“This will be a huge way to help the public. We can see how other schools in areas formed comparable policies. We could call them and ask what they would have done differently or how they would have tweaked a policy,” Spencer said. “Our first concern is not the money (saved) but for students. The money we save can be put back into the classroom to make the learning experiences better and better. I’m excited about it but it’s going to take a while as we get used to using it.”
It is felt electronic distribution will not only save time and resources, but it will also provide unprecedented public access via the Carroll County Public School’s Web site to agenda items and other board-related information. This process will allow interested parties to review information prior to meetings. All documents associated with the meeting are automatically archived and can be accessed by date or by using the system’s comprehensive Search feature. (The new board management features can be accessed via the organization’s website at www.ccpsd.k12.va.us)
“This is a great way to to use the technology to get the information that we really need to see. It’s quicker access to get the types of things we need so we can move on things quicker,” Spencer said.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.