(TNS) -- The Franklin Regional school directors will take steps next year to make board information more readily accessible to the public.
Directors voted 7-1 to enter into a one-year contract with Board Docs, a digital document management firm that will allow the district to post and update agendas and supporting documents and make them available immediately to the public.
The contract will cost $10,000 the first year due to a $1,000 “start-up” fee, and $9,000 annually if it is renewed.
The system allow anyone with a digital device to access agendas and supplemental materials more easily and will cut down on the large packets of photocopied documents delivered by courier to board members twice per month.
Additionally, with free wireless access in the Murrysville municipal building, anyone attending meetings with a digital device will have easy access to the online materials.
“I think this is a very powerful tool,” said board President Larry Borland. “It's not just a search (engine) for these things, which are public policy documents, but it also allows one to go outside if you have a question about something that is new for this (district). You can query into public documents of many other school boards and see how they dealt with a particular issue.”
Superintendent Gennaro Piraino, who recommended the move to Board Docs, said it is a continuation of the board's effort to be more transparent, which began with moving its meetings to the Murrysville council chambers, where they are televised on Murrysville's public-access Channel 19 and broadcast live on YouTube.
“The advantage of this is that folks watching (online or at home) can also now follow along with the agenda,” Piraino said.
Piraino touted the additional material available through Board Docs' search functions.
“If you're looking at developing a policy, you can run a search and find model policies, or versions from other districts that have adopted something similar,” he said. “It can really help the board to be more efficient in its work.”
Board member Jane Tower, who voted against the contract, said she had concerns about the cost as well as over-reliance on technology.
“It's $9,000 this year, and who knows what it will be the year after that?” she said. “We are now in an age where we're totally dependent on the Internet, and that's fine if everything's working and if you have access. But I worry that if I, or others, don't, that we might not be as prepared as we should be.”
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