An interesting idea presents itself through an experiment conducted at Liberty Elementary in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The school is now using the web to send information to parents that would otherwise have gone home on paper. The school built a website through a platform that allows users to create free sites.
Students would take home a folder once a week with information for parents.
“We were busy stuffing the folders one day and someone said, ‘We have to figure out how to do it electronically,’ ” said Jean Hudson, the school’s administrative assistant.
They found an easy to use platform to execute their plan.
“It’s a great way for the school to promote going green,” according to Hudson. The use of less paper also has saved the school money. The school, which is the largest of the district’s three elementary schools with 520 students, is saving $1,521 this year, Liberty Principal Tanja Pederson said. “We wanted to save money, but we are really more excited about being greener,” Pederson said.
Less than 10% opted to receive paper handouts, either because they preferred that form or more likely because they do not have Internet access. Important communications such as report cards and special announcements have continued to be sent home.
I’m agnostic about the potential efficacy and cost savings of such efforts and would be interested to hear the opinions of others. I do know that our principal puts quite an effort into producing a wonderful newsletter to families every month. The hurdles in placing it online may initially be a little vexing but in the long term, probably not too taxing. I can see a number of plusses, including a quicker relay of timely information. But I can also envision some minuses. There are many good things to be said about a paper document that you can refer to quite easily, especially when it is attached by a magnet to the side of your refrigerator, like ours. I worry too about the families without internet connections, which will vary from school to school. However, if, like the Harrisburg school, a choice could be offered to parents, this could be a model of both saving money and being greener that Madison schools could emulate.