The Letcher County Board of Education is going paperless at its monthly meetings — at least for now.
The board said during its September meeting Monday night that it will experiment with using laptop computers and Apple iPad tablets to access agenda and other documents necessary during meetings.
“I guess the question is do we want to go to the technology age or stay in the Stone Age?” asked Board Chairman Will Smith.
Board secretary Debbie Cook said the district uses about a case of paper a month — at a cost of about $26 — to produce the current “packets” that contain the agenda and other items. Cook said the cost of ink and the time required to prepare the packets are a factor as well.
An “eMeeting” trainer with the Kentucky School Boards Association
(KSBA) attended Monday night’s meeting to demonstrate to the board how the monthly packet would be accessed on a secure website, with each member having his or her own user name and password.
The trainer, Kim Barker, said 61 school districts in Kentucky (including Jenkins) use the KSBA’s eMeeting system which costs $2,250 the first year and $1,000 each year after that.
Cook, formerly the board secretary for Morgan County, said it now takes her a week to get board packets ready for the monthly meeting. By using eMeeting she could have everything ready in three hours.
“I think it would be really nice in a lot of ways,” said Cook. “If you need to make changes, you can do it.”
All of the packets entered into the eMeeting system would be archived so board members could search old packets for old agenda items.
Supt. Anna Craft first suggested the board try out the eMeeting system during the coming December meeting, because that meeting usually has less items to address on the agenda. Craft told the board she would round up some laptops and iPads so board members could see which electronic device they like better.
“We’ll take a look at it, play around with it and decide what to do,” said Smith.
Craft also mentioned that Arlie Boggs and Martha Jane Potter Elementary Schools each recently received 30 iPads to use during math class.
“We wanted to look at using iPads instead of textbooks,” said Craft. “Research is showing students that use iPads instead of textbooks are doing better than other students across the state.”
Arlie Boggs teacher Harry Collins showed the board some of the program applications, more commonly referred to as “apps,” that he uses to teach algebra.
“Sometimes I just can’t get it across like an animated character can,” said Collins, adding that the possibilities from teaching with an iPad are endless.
“ This is just tipping the iceberg,” said Collins. “There is so much more I want to do.”
In other business, Chris Russell, project manager of the Letcher County Area Technology Center, said the new final completion date is December 29. He said the main switchgear for the electrical system, which has delayed the project, was to be installed yesterday (Tuesday).
“ It’s starting to take shape,” said Smith. “Aesthetically, it is just a beautiful structure.”
Board Member Sam Quillen Jr. remarked that students will no longer have to ride on school buses to go to the vocational school, but will be able to walk down the hall to get to the new center.
Pupil Personnel Director Kenneth Cornett reported that Arlie Boggs School had the highest attendance rate for the first month of the 2011-2012 with 96.47 percent.
The school district has an enrollment of 3,313, up slightly from 3,263 at the end of the last school year.
In other business, the board:
• named Angie Miranda Holbrook, a kindergarten teacher at ABES, as employee of the month.
• awarded bids for the sale of gasoline, diesel fuel, oil, lubricants and antifreeze to district to Childers Oil Company. The bid for tires, tubes and tire retreading was awarded to Appalachian Tire, Childers Oil Company and Perry County Tire.
• approved a change to a personnel procedure on employee drug testing so that only records of failed drug tests will be kept in an employee’s personnel file in the board office.
• approved a request from Faith Community Church to use the Letcher County Central High School auditorium for a concert by the gospel music group The Spencer Family on October 8.
• approved a request from Tumble Tyme Gymnastics to use the Cowan Elementary School cafeteria at 4:15 p.m. on Mondays.
• agreed to permit the Whitesburg First Baptist Church to host a concert in the LCCHS auditorium at 6 p.m. on October 29. The band’s NewSong and Kutless will perform.
• agreed to allow the LCCHS cross country team to travel to Lexington for meets on October 14, October 28 and November 11.
• approved a request by the Martha Jane Potter School girls’ basketball team to travel to Clintwood, Va., on October 13.
• contracted with Kramer Entertainment to bring a planetarium dome theater to LCCHS on November 1.
• approved the following three fund-raisers: MJP will sell items from School Mall; ABES will hold a fall festival November 4 and 5; West Whitesburg Elementary will collect fruit juice pouches and box tops. WWES will also have a book fair.
• learned of the resignations of classified employees Shannon Collins, a substitute teacher, and Colton Sumpter, an ABES academic coach.
In his report to the board, District Finance Officer Gary Caldwell reported that the district’s actual bank balance is $8,040,347.87, with $3,662,696.86 for construction projects.