School trustees voted Tuesday night to spend $5,445 to buy themselves five laptop computers, which they hope will allow them to cut down on the amount of paper they have to shuffle during meetings.
Secretary-treasurer Ken Campbell said the cost of the laptops is “minimal” in the context of the district’s $9-million budget.
“In terms of extravagance, I don’t believe $5,445Â…. Is extravagant for trustees to be more informed,” he said, after trustee Christine Martynuik questioned whether this was a good use of school board money.
Once trustees are equipped with laptops, they will be able to download their meeting agendas and associated information, Mr. Campbell said. They would also be able to look up old documents or search for additional information during meetings, he said.
Paper copies of agendas will continue to be available at school board meetings for members of the public, but the public would also have the option of downloading information from the school district web site to their own computers.
Mr. Campbell said there will be no other costs besides the purchase of the laptops, except that the school board will pay for an internet connection if there are any trustees without one.
The switch to laptops will probably save some money because not as much paper will be needed, superintendent Mike Woods said.
Only three out of five trustees were present at the meeting: Ms Martynuik, Sharon Matthews, and Ina Biron. Chair Wayne Wilson and vice-chair Lisa Gyorgy were both sick and could not attend.
Ms Martynuik, Ms Matthews and Ms Biron all said they had heard nothing from their constituents, either positive or negative, about the laptop purchase, which was first suggested at a January school board meeting.
One member of the public questioned whether it is possible to buy laptop computers for as little as $1,089 each, the cost projected by Mr. Campbell.
Mr. Campbell said it is indeed possible, and then told members of the public not to talk or ask any more questions until question time at the end of the meeting.
He later apologized, saying it was his duty as a parliamentarian to keep the meeting on track.
“It wasn’t my intent to offend anybody,” he said. “If anybody has been offended, I apologize to them.”
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