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Published: Tuesday, 3/11/2014

Sylvania school board goes digital, makes its actions available real time online

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The screen to the left displays how the Sylvania Board of Education keeps tabs on its voting on agenda items, and that is updated throughout the meetings and is available, in real time, to the public through a Web site. The screen to the left displays how the Sylvania Board of Education keeps tabs on its voting on agenda items, and that is updated throughout the meetings and is available, in real time, to the public through a Web site.
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Resident of the Sylvania School District can now follow a Board of Education meeting in real time from the comfort of their home.

Gone are the paper agendas passed out at Sylvania school board meetings. The board has gone paperless, placing the meeting agenda and related documents online for faster updates and ability to make it available to anyone who wants it.

The district's digital initiative, which has put Chromebooks in the hand of every student, is implemented at the administrative level, too. Recently, school board members started using portable laptops to track decisions made at public meetings. In the past month, they have installed an online software BoardDocs which places each agenda on the Web.

The public can access the site and follow during a meeting. As the board votes on each agenda item, the "yay’s" or "nay’s" are recorded and show immediately on the online site.

"It is very transparent, how we vote, where we are in terms of the agenda, and it translates to the real time access, tracking votes while it happens," said board President Jim Nusbaum.

The BoardDocs Web site can be accessed at www.boarddocs.com/oh/sylvania/Board.nsf.

Mr. Nusbaum noted that using BoardDocs reduces the turnaround time to post minutes on the district’s Web site. Before the switch, the time it took to post meeting minutes for public viewing ranged from 10 days to two weeks, he said.

The software developed by Emerald Data Solutions of Atlanta costs $9,600.

Laura Sauber, chief financial officer, said the software was paid with money from the general fund. Although she did not provide a cost analysis on the switch, she said the district "will save endless pieces of paper with this system,” along with staff time devoted to putting together a paper agenda packet.

People attending the school board meetings can follow the board discussions on the big screen set up for everyone’s view.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.



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