Paperless Board Meetings
When Dr. Vic Wilson became the superintendent of Hartselle City Schools in July of 2013, one of his first priorities was to evaluate his new surroundings. Personnel, processes, culture, organizational priorities — all garnered his attention as he began his new leadership role in the Alabama district and helped develop and guide the strategy he would employ to help bring success to the students of Hartselle City Schools.
A former high school principal and teacher, Dr. Wilson was no stranger to education, dedicating most of his adult life to helping children learn and succeed. This experience, alongside the assistance of many of the outstanding support staff in the district, helped ensure a smooth transition and played an integral role in the evaluation process.
One of the areas Dr. Wilson knew he could address quickly was improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the district’s school board meetings. A longtime user of Simbli at Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Ala., Dr. Wilson knew the kind of impact a board governance software solution like Simbli could make within the district. “When I first assumed the role of superintendent in Hartselle, we had nine copy machines that were in use,” he said. “Those copy machines were getting a workout producing all of the board meeting packets we were distributing for our school board meetings. Right out of the gate, we were able to eliminate almost all the printing we were doing for our board meetings, ultimately saving thousands of dollars each year in printing costs.”
Easy, Effective, and Comprehensive
Recognizing the need to reduce costs and improve meeting efficiency, adopting paperless board meetings and making the move to a digital environment was a high priority for Dr. Wilson. But he also knew it would potentially be a difficult transition for some, both philosophically and tactically. “Many of our board members have different abilities and experiences when it comes to the use of technology,” said Dr. Wilson. “I knew whatever we adopted as our board management solution was going to have to be easy to use and readily available for our board members on any device, any time of the day or night. That’s why I knew Simbli was the clear choice; it’s extremely intuitive and something our board members could easily access via laptop, iPad®, Chromebook™ or mobile device.”
Yet another requirement was the need for a single, comprehensive board management software solution that not only addressed the move to digital via paperless board meetings, but also brought together meetings, planning, policies and evaluations into one easy-to-use board governance solution. “Many software companies focus solely on board meetings,” commented Dr. Wilson. “Simbli provides a one-stop shop for board members, helping the board go well beyond just board meetings. It’s how we look at our policies; how we conduct our board, principal and administrative meetings; it’s where we house and manage our strategic plan; it’s where we house and conduct evaluations for the superintendent, board, administrators, and even teachers. It’s a comprehensive solution that helps us do what we do effectively.”
A Little Something for Everyone
Having used Simbli in the past, Dr. Wilson knew one of the biggest beneficiaries following the district’s adoption of Simbli would be Jan Byrd, administrative assistant to the superintendent and Hartselle’s school board secretary. Byrd uses the software almost daily, developing board agendas, updating board policies, posting meeting minutes, updating the district’s strategic plan and much more. “As soon as I began using the software, I knew immediately it was going to help me tremendously,” said Byrd. “It was a timesaver right from the start. Things that used to take me hours became minutes and I was even able to assign tasks to others who could also help out.” Byrd also benefited from the flexibility and efficiency of placing all of the district’s policies online, as well. “All of the old binders containing our district policies have been placed on a shelf and remain there,” said Byrd. “Not only are we able to update policies on the fly, we’re able to cross reference and link related policies together. Even better, we can provide access to those policies to anyone we wish, including the public.”
Making an Impact on the District
Now more than three years into his tenure as superintendent, Dr. Wilson has achieved great success. Named 2016 Superintendent of the Year in Alabama, he credits Hartselle’s amazing students, teachers, staff and community for working together towards common goals with shared responsibility. He also recognizes the importance of developing partnerships with vendors that can truly help the district improve. “We work with very few vendors,” he said. “They must have a great product, they must be able to sell us something we can’t do ourselves, and it must be a viable product that we can use to move us forward. That’s the very definition of our partnership with Simbli.”