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posted: 2/4/2014 5:00 AM

Editorial: Elected board members should plug in with their colleagues

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Like it or not, technology drives and dictates the way we communicate, work and play.

Laptop computers, smartphones, tablets, email, texting, social media. They are the accepted if not the preferred means of getting in touch and staying in touch.

Yes, there's still great value in face-to-face meetings and person-to-person phone calls. But for speed, convenience and connectability, you can't beat technology. It's the nature of business, social relationships and government these days.

And that's why the no-techology stance taken by two Warren Township High School District 121 board members is so puzzling, so odd.

At a time when government information, dialogue and accountability should be enhanced with the easy accessibility technology provides for residents, Liz Biondi and Catherine Campbell are going old school.

Since joining the school board during the April 2013 election, both have taken a pass on using the district-issued email account and iPad tablet computers.

Instead, they receive paper board packets and information and thumb through hard copies of emails. They prefer that Superintendent Mary Perry Bates relay "urgent matters" by calling or texting their wireless phones.

Biondi contends the $474 in annual data fees for each iPad cost more than the paper board meeting packets she receives and finds easier to use. She also cites security concerns in declining Warren's technology. Campbell didn't return messages seeking comment on the reasons behind her technology stance.

While we are happy about Biondi's eye on the bottom line, we echo the concerns of others who think priorities are misplaced.

"It's very strange, and it certainly makes the board operate less efficiently and probably increases cost," political expert Kent Redfield told the Daily Herald's Bob Susnjara.

Biondi and Campbell have been scolded by fellow board members who say the two aren't on the same page with the rest of the group. Their refusal to use the iPad means they can't quickly access important documents, policies and information during meetings as part of the decision-making process.

What's more disconcerting is the ripple effect caused by their stubborn stance.

They hamper easy, convenient accessibility for those who elected them to office and who they represent in conducting the people's business.

They sit on the board of one of the largest high school districts in the suburbs and make decisions on a host of matters, many involving the future technology needs of students, without the benefit of using technology.

This is nothing to LOL about.

Biondi and Campbell -- and all board members, school, village or otherwise, tempted to eschew affordable technology tools that improve efficiency and accessibility -- need to rethink their position and get with the times.

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