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Board makes moves toward paperless meetings

The District 192 School Board took a very early step Monday toward eliminating some of the clutter that comes with board meetings.

Board members reviewed a system that would allow the district to eliminate the need to print agenda packets for board members. Those packets can number in the hundreds of pages for busy meetings, and superintendent Brad Meeks estimated the district prints in the neighborhood of 30,000 pages of board packets each year.

The system discussed Monday, called Board Book, would put all of that information in a secure online location. Board members could have access to it wherever they have an Internet connection. The company's web site also claims agendas are easier to put together with the system. Meeks and administrative assistant Lori Jensen attended a web-based seminar on the system recently after board requests to explore the possibility of paperless meetings.

"It seems to be very simple to use. It seemed very efficient," Meeks said.

It's not free, though. There would be a $2,000 annual fee for the district to use Board Book, and Meeks talked Monday about buying a laptop computer for each board member.

Meeks said moving to Board Book would save the district on printing costs and on staff time associated with assembling the information.

The system got a mostly positive reaction from board members, though some said they'd rather use their own computers than have the district pay for something new.

"I don't want to use a district computer for personal things, and I don't want to go to a separate computer just for the board stuff," board member Tim Burke said.

Board member John Kampf expressed a preference for staying old-fashioned -- "I like my book," he said, holding up a three-ring binder with his board packet -- but said he'd be willing to make the change if the rest of the board was interested.

The Board Book system is currently in use in Minnesota districts including Minneapolis, Wayzata, Mahtomedi, Yellow Medicine and Eden Prairie. The subject will come back to the Farmington board at a future meeting.