With three kids in three different schools, I am buried in paper; the running joke in our household is that I have more homework than my kids do. Easily three-quarters of what comes home goes straight into the recycling bin. Multiply that by over 5000 children in our school district and the mind boggles.
Isn’t there a better way to get information to parents?
One Pennsylvania school thinks so. Liberty elementary school in Harrisburg now sends school papers electronically through a free website on Shutterfly. Nearly 90% of the parents at that school opted for the online version- the remainder still preferring paper or lacking home internet access.
The cutback in paper printouts is saving money as well as trees- Liberty principal Tanja Pederson reports the school will save over $1500 this year.
This is a wonderfully empowering example of how any one person, one small change, can make a difference. Helping schools make the switch from paper to online access is something any helpful parent can volunteer to do- it would just take one parent per classroom to upload a weekly newsletter.
School-wide papers are generally formatted on a computer before being printed anyway- why not just post to a website, rather than take the time, expense, and resources to print enough copies for each student? Again, it would take just one volunteer to input parents’ email addresses at the beginning of the school year. When new information posts to the school’s website, an alert could then be automatically sent to each parent’s inbox.
In addition, the papers that must be sent home could be optimized to require less resources. A Penn State study found that by
reducing margins, font sizes and spacing, the school could reduce its annual paper consumption by 67 percent, send 80 percent less paper to landfills, cut paper-related carbon emissions by 77 percent and reduce its impact on forests by 90 percent … all while also saving money. A so-called standard 100-page print job, for example, could be whittled down to less than 20 by choosing better print parameters.
It all seems so simple, doesn’t it? Will you approach your school’s PTA?