HFM BOCES eyes paperless system

JOHNSTOWN – The Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services Board of Education is considering a new paperless document system that would save money, help the environment and allow the public more access to meeting documents, said Superintendent Patrick Michel.

Last week, the board was provided a presentation on the BoardDocs system that would allow the district to transition to paperless agendas and meeting documents. Presently the board uses a costly and time consuming binder system that it fills on an annual basis.

“We believe we will save money because the software will significantly reduce duplication and mailing costs,” Michel said on Monday. “Time is also money and this program will free up time for our board clerk/health insurance clerk to do other work and reduce the amount of time our communication service will have to devote to the website. We have not sat down and crunched those numbers yet. We will as part of our next presentation to the board.”

According to the BoardDocs website, the BoardDocs programs has helped close to 1,000 organizations dramatically lower costs, increase transparency and reduce the time spent producing board packets by up to 75 percent.

The BoardDocs system would require some type of tablet or lap top for each board member because of it being a digital program. Michel said the board is still considering the best option.

“We have several options,” Michel said. “Right now we are checking to see if we can use what we have. Our board members all have computers at home, so we would have to supply a lap top or tablet for them to use here. We will have to check with the experts to see what they suggest.”

He said there are two options offered by BoardDocs. The first would cost around $2,700 plus a $1,000 start-up fee. The second option would be $9,000 plus the start-up fee. The board is going to consider both at the next meeting, but they want more details before they make their choice, Michel said.

Michel said the difference between the two options is primarily additional features. For instance, if the district were to choose the more expensive deal it would include a database of all policies implemented by other districts using the BoardDocs system. He said this would be useful if the district were ever considering making a change to a particular item they could use the program to research what others have done.

The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District has already made the change to the paperless BoardDocs system which has saved both time and money, District Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said.

He said the paperless transition saved the district additional money because the hours necessary to put together the packets are eliminated.

If the transition to BoardDocs is made at HFM BOCES it also will allow members of the public to see every document the board may be looking at or discussing during any particular meeting from their home.

“The program will also increase public access to board meeting documents,” Michel said. “Allowing for more public access is a real factor in choosing this option.”