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More online items coming to website for Shaler Area

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Shaler Area School Board members will provide the public with more information online before monthly meetings.

The board has approved posting the supplemental information and forms online, in addition to the meeting agendas, prior to the meetings.

“So everything available to us in paper form can be put on our website,” said Jeanne Petrovich, school board member. “So they (the public) can see it before we vote on it.”

In 2010, Shaler Area school board meetings went paperless with all of the information being posted on a school board page on a district-wide platform.

The agenda, which used to be available only in paper form at the meetings or by request, now is available online. However, Petrovich said some information that was available in paper at the meetings no longer is easily accessible, such as the check registry for the district budget or policy drafts.

“I think we need to revamp our website, so we're more transparent,” Petrovich said. “Whatever was available in '08 should be available on our website.”

District solicitor John Vogel cautioned the board members about posting certain documents online that might cause confusion or affect litigation.

“I've seen in practice, someone raises a document and it wasn't the final version,” Vogel said. “Be careful of what is out there to prevent confusion.”

Mary Lou Dixon supported the move to place supplemental documents online, which she said will hopefully allow better transparency of the district's governance.

“I don't think we have anything to hide,” Dixon said. “We can see it on Blackboard (the district-wide platform used by the school board members). It gives the perception we have something to hide. If it's public knowledge, why not give it to them.”

Catherine Davidson, of Shaler Township, expressed her support of the board's decision and encouraged the board members to continue to work on improving the district's website usability for the public.

“Asking for documents to supplement the agenda … I had felt it was an oversight from the transition from paper to electronic,” said Davidson, a former school board member who left the board in November 2011.

“I would like to see our website as forthcoming as (others),” Davidson said, citing the websites of Pine-Richland, North Hills, North Allegheny and Hampton.

“I hate to say it; it (the website) puts ours to shame at this time. I think a little more research could be done on this because it would be in our best interest.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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