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School board going paperless

All-electronic agenda at Burbank Unified is expected to save time, money, trees.

January 15, 2011|By Megan O'Neil,

School board members face plenty of battles in 2011 — an election, budget cuts and union negotiations loom. But what they won't have to grapple with this year are the hundreds of pages of documents included in each Burbank Unified board meeting agenda.

The school board is poised to transition to an electronic system that will eliminate the need for the inches-thick packets that guide school officials and community members through district protocol and discussion items.

"In the long run, it is going to be a money saver," said Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa. "We think it is going to improve our efficiency."


The new software system, Questsys, is being tested by district employees and board member Debbie Kukta, and is expected to be fully deployed next month.

It will enhance the use of the agenda from start to finish, said Cynthia Gonzales, an assistant to the superintendent who is responsible for assembling the documents. Staff members will be able to submit agenda items and supporting materials electronically, Gonzales said, and changes and corrections will be more easily executed.

The agenda is already accessible on the district website, but staff prints dozens of paper copies before each meeting, Gonzales said. They are distributed to board members and staff members, and circulated to the city's three public libraries, as dictated by state law.

About 30 agenda packets are available on site at the biweekly school board meetings.

Once the transition is complete, the new system will eliminate the need to print hard copies, saving paper and money, officials said.

"We are hoping it will ease the time consumption it takes to package out these different agendas," Gonzales said.

Electronic agendas will be viewable at all of the places where the district traditionally posts the agenda, Carrizosa said, and board members will access them during the meetings on laptops provided by the district.

Kukta said she has amassed boxes full of hard-copy agendas, and is looking forward to the switch to Questsys.

"I love it," Kukta said. "You can access it online or you can save it as a PDF file on your system."

The digital transition was set in motion about a year ago when district staff began researching programs that would be compatible with Granicus, a content management system already being used by City Hall and Burbank Unified to post videos of public meetings online. And it mirrors a paperless push currently underway at Burbank City Hall.

"It allows everything to happen faster," Carrizosa said of the paperless system.

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