Reducing paper at Stevenson would make space for three classrooms

Stevenson High School’s policy regarding printed paper documents may soon be changing.

The possible upgrade could free as much space as the equivalent of three classrooms.

The District 125 School Board discussed Monday its desire to become as digital and paperless as possible. Some of those instances are situations where state law still requires paper; others, though, could probably eliminate paper.

Like the super-sized packet board members received during their Aug. 8-9 retreat at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort.

“The doorstop,” as board member Terry Moons referred to it.

Mark Michelini, assistant superintendent for business, knows about whole closets filled with such doorstops — and Bankers Box-size containers full of old tests and records, some of which the state requires schools to keep for 60 years.

Which for the 49-year-old district means it still has documents from the original students that it cannot toss for another decade.

“We’d like to recapture space that we’re using for paper storage,” Michelini said. “There’s a couple conference rooms that are filled with tests. We’ve got to move boxes of paper. It’s ridiculous.”

Michelini said he plans to request between $20,000 and $25,000 from the board for a software purchase, likely from either Xerox or Canon, that will enable staff to scan hard copies into a searchable database.

Such a change would take years to complete, he noted, but would make documents rapidly accessible via any computer connected to that database, instead of requiring a trip to the Lincolnshire school.

It would also free up as much as 2,400 square feet of storage — the equivalent of three classrooms, Michelini estimated.

The project would apply to only about 10 percent of everything Stevenson still prints, he said.

Only permanent student records and some financial statements the school must keep for decades would be archived. Temporary student records can be tossed after only five years.

However, the increase in the use of technology in classrooms today opens the door for even greater reductions in paper use.

“I’m very optimistic about the future,” Michelini said. “The teachers are embracing the iPad technology.”

And with that comes a smaller need for paper — except where the state still requires it.

Of course, digitized files fill space in hard drives and hard drives take up space in the real world.

Michelini noted that eventually Stevenson will be erasing scans out of its digital storage to avoid buying more hardware in its real space.

“There’s a lot of levels to this,” he said.

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