Business of Education

Accountability and Transparency

Data—we all want to see it. Board members are no different. Districts are awash in data and information, and boards need a way to organize that information and use it to improve student achievement.

One solution starts in the boardroom: BoardDocs, a paperless meeting and board management software developed by Emerald Data Solutions. Emerald Data Solution’s founder Ari Ioannides spoke with ASBJ Editor-in-Chief Kathleen Vail about accountability, transparency, and transformation.

How has technology impacted the way school boards conduct meetings?

It has allowed board members to have better access to the information they need to make decisions. With tools like BoardDocs, technology allows administrators to tell a story in context with the goals of the organization and give the board tools to make a decision and then track it. Consider a large district with graduation rate problems. It has a strategic plan to raise the rate from 45 percent to 80 percent. This is a big lift. Tools like BoardDocs allow the board to track the administrator in charge of the goal and whether the district is meeting the key performance indicators. With technology, you can share information with stakeholders and put it in context for your community. That’s transformative. With the new breed of board members, this is what they expect.

How are board members more comfortable with using technology?

Part of the board member’s role is to say it’s OK to use technology in the boardroom. We have 3,000 districts using BoardDocs, and all the board members don’t have to be computer experts. Most of our customers are digital immigrants, so they have to figure it out. I tell board members BoardDocs is easier to use than Amazon. It’s easier to make decisions and hold staff accountable to your policies. It’s a no-brainer.

What are best practices that board members should keep in mind?

Student achievement used to be measured by two or three performance indicators; now there is so much more information to consume. An electronic system allows boards to sort through all that information. See the indictors, assign indicators to the administrators who will be responsible for it. A board portal gives administrators the way to better present the information to the board. With the old board packet email PDF, or packet dropped off at our homes, it’s much harder to track the information to see student achievement indicators and drill down to what matters.

How can BoardDocs impact student achievement and transparency in the community?

As a board, your job is to build community capital so when it comes time to ask for a bond, the community will stand behind you. A big part of that is transparency and trust. Districts who are more open have a better relationship with their community. With an open board portal system, your school’s documents are on the website, your votes, and videos from your meetings. The public loves it. BoardDocs makes it easy. It’s what people expect from local government now.

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