What do time, money and trees all have in common? They’re all things school districts save by going paperless with BoardDocs, according to company officials.
Atlanta-based Emerald Data Solutions started out 20 years ago, offering technology services to businesses in the Atlanta area with a client list including Turner Broadcasting, BellSouth, Ernst & Young and Rollins. The paperless meeting service for schools was first designed in January 2000 at the request of Howard Barnett, superintendent of Marietta City schools.
“We were contracted to provide the technology infrastructure for the new high school and remodel of the middle school,” said Ari Ioannides, BoardDocs President. “He was impressed by our internally developed project-management system and asked if we could do something similar for school board meetings.”
The solution provides the public a way to track items from board meetings for their progress, which they were previously unable to do, he said. Ioannides said it takes from 50 percent to 75 percent less time to produce an electronic packet.
Typically, a school board meeting has 200-page packets, with 30 percent to 70 percent printed for each meeting, Ioannides said. Once printed, the packets require a courier to deliver them, adding to the carbon footprint.
When a change is made electronically, it’s made in all copies at the same time. Having everything online also allows users to search the history easily, Ioannides said.
The company is able to get a school district’s system running in one or two months on average, depending on how quickly on-site training can be scheduled. The service allows storage in archives, maintains calendars, tracks strategic goals and generates minutes during meetings, among other offerings. Systems are customized for each organization and training is provided.
BoardDocs recently reached a milestone of serving 435 companies and organizations, including school districts. Ioannides said the company has seen accelerated growth recently, particularly in the last year. However, much of the growth stems from time and cost savings as opposed to environmental concerns.
Many BoardDocs users see going green as an added benefit, he said.
“Board members like the feel of paper,” Ioannides said. “They’re spending money to go green and get LEED certified, requiring zoning be green or have low impact, but still requiring organizations to print out thousands and thousands of sheets of paper.”