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updated: 4/11/2011 5:27 PM

More Dist. 76 material appearing online

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A move to save money also has increased the amount of online information available regarding Diamond Lake Elementary District 76.

With little fanfare, the Mundelein-based district has upgraded its website to include links to meeting agendas and minutes, as well as supporting documents for individual items -- what is known as the board packet.

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While there had been some in-house testing, the listing for Monday's meeting was the second official electronic notice using a web-based software application called BoardBook.

The cost is $2,000 per year, but that is expected to be recouped in reductions in the amount of paper used and staff time spent assembling and delivering the packets.

"The biggest factor was the amount of paper we generate each board meeting," said school board President Keith Loeffler. "It makes us more efficient and it does save the district money."

District 76 board members recently began using school laptops during meetings to access online information they were discussing. Even the district's check registry is now online.

Incoming school board member Patricia Naegele, who ran unopposed in the recent election, praised the posting.

"It can only benefit the community," she said. "Unless it's prohibited by law, we have an open book policy."

BoardBook was developed several years ago by the Texas Association of School Boards.

"It helps keep a lot of information in an easier format to use," said spokeswoman Barbara Williams. "It's not just a convenience, it's also a best use of time."

BoardBook has 746 customers in the U.S. and Canada, most of them school districts. The Illinois Association of School Boards has partnered with the Texas group to make it available here.

One of those customers is Oak Grove Elementary District 68, which began using it in July 2009.

"The most important reason was to be more transparent to our community. We're able to provide them with a lot of information," Superintendent Janice Matthews said.

The Green Oaks-based district makes available the packet, meeting minutes, including those of board committees, and other supporting documents.

"You can bring your own computer (to the board meeting) and follow along if you want to," Matthews said.

BoardBook is not the only provider as school districts and public entities increase their online offerings.

Mundelein Elementary District 75, for example, upgraded its website in December with proceeds of a federal technology grant. It uses a different brand of website manager to post reports and presentations online.

"We're trying to make it easy for people," Superintendent Cynthia Heidorn said.

District 75 agendas also are posted but the packet is not, although it has been available electronically to board members. The board is considering whether post electronic packets online.

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