Board continues paperless meeting discussion

Felton says going paperless would increase transparency

By Kari Williams

Mehlville School District officials do not expect to save money or remain revenue neutral if the district switches to paperless Board of Education meetings, but Superintendent Eric Knost will continue to look for such possibilities to present to the board.

Knost told the board district officials know it is not a revenue-neutral effort, regardless of the services they could select.

“We know that these services are going to cost us between a couple hundred to several hundred dollars a month,” Knost said Oct. 17. “… I think I want to take a deep breath with what we’ve learned so far before I bring you another company and say, ‘Is this something that the collective board wants to pursue?'”

Two paperless companies, Intelligent Meeting Management, or IQM2, and BoardDocs, have presented to the board within the past few months.

IQM2 would cost the district $650 per month or $7,800 per year. BoardDocs LT, the simplest version, would cost the district $2,700 per year, plus a $1,000 startup fee. BoardDocs Pro Version would cost $9,000 per year, plus a $1,000 startup fee.

A third company, NovusAgenda, which did not present to the board, would cost $4,450 per year.

Board members Rich Franz and Kathleen Eardley said they will not support considering any company until switching to paperless meetings is revenue neutral.

But board Secretary Larry Felton said the decision to go paperless is not “a tactical dollars decision.”

“I think it’s a strategic decision …,” Felton told the board. “We talk about one-on-one technology, and yet we’re basically doing it with sticks and stones with PDF files. I think we should be a model of the type of technology we expect our schools to use.”

Felton also said going paperless would allow for archiving and make the district more transparent.

Board member Ron Fedorchak said because of the “fluid nature of the board,” he would like to continue pursuing the possibility of a paperless system.

“I don’t think we are ready to make (a decision), but I do agree with Larry that it is strategic and it’s something we should be striving for all throughout the district,” he said.

Board Vice President Elaine Powers said what she likes about the possibility of paperless meetings is “the ability to make things more accessible,” even though she prefers the hard copy.

“It is hard to find things online and pour through the PDF documents, so a searchable capability, things like that, I think would be beneficial,” Powers said.

Board President Venki Palamand said he prefers the hard copies of board documents and that what other board members would like to see occur could be done through a searchable PDF.

Board member Mark Stoner said if a company wants to bring a “project that is revenue neutral or will save us money, put the ball in their court.”

Knost said he will continue to search for options that are revenue neutral or save the district money.

“I don’t think it’s impossible to land on some of these concepts,” Knost said.