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Manchester High School’s paper consumption is dropping fast because English teacher Justin Pearson and his colleagues routinely have students write and revise essays on their Chromebooks.

‘Saving Trees’ Through Digital Strategies

From oak to elm, from maple to spruce, they come in all species and shapes and sizes. Variety aside, a paper-selling arborist once famously calculated that it takes one “typical” tree to produce about 8,300 sheets of paper.

Using that formula, Manchester High School has saved about 95 trees since the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year, which is when all students were given Chromebook computers.

“Our copy center used to be busy all the time, a sort of faculty meeting area,” said Christine Quintiliani, a secretary who once spent much of her time there. “Now, it’s much quieter.”

Manchester’s investment in Chromebooks is just one reason for the dramatic decrease in paper consumption. The district has cut back in virtually every department and now uses digital means to communicate just about everything. Pay stubs? Report cards? Job applications? Time sheets? Going … going … gone (or almost).

“We are always looking for efficiencies,” said Superintendent Matt Geary. “We always make decisions based on what is best for our students, so we need to be smart with our resources. Much of this is also environmentally appealing, which is an added benefit.”

The payroll department four years ago began using KRONOS, a digital timekeeping system for non-certified employees including secretaries, paras, tutors and maintenance workers. Sylvie Levesque, the district payroll supervisor, said the approach is far more efficient. “There’s no more sorting through all those time sheets,” she said, adding that her department also sends digital paystubs via email, which save on supplies and hours spent stuffing envelopes.

Human Resources earlier this year implemented a web-based Personnel Action Request system that is used when employment positions need to be filled. (There are still some obsolete two-ply carbonless forms in a storage closet.) Job candidates then apply using Applitracks, uploading resumes, letters of rec and more.

Teachers keep tabs on their certification status using Munis, sign up for professional development sessions using Protraxx and submit work orders using Schooldude. Students and parents, meanwhile, register using Infosnap, check their grades using eschool’s Home Access Center, manage their college planning through Naviance, and check their attendance records using Swipe, which is a real-time attendance tracking system that even sends emails and text messages to parents when their child swipes into the building. Everything is web-based. Everything is available 24/7.

District officials are quick to note that each school accommodates parents and guardians who request that reports cards or other records be mailed home, but also say that most parents and students seem satisfied with the speed and efficiency of web-based communication.

 “If there is a way to save paper, to save money, to be more efficient and effective, we are interested in it,” said Pat Brooks, who as Assistant Superintendent, Finance and Management is forever searching for ways to maximize the impact of the school board’s $109 million budget. “We will never really know how much we have reduced our carbon footprint but know we are doing the right thing for all the right reasons.”
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