Northport-East Northport school board members earlier this month discussed whether the district should pay for iPads that trustees could use during meetings.
The idea was introduced by board member David Stein as a way to reduce costs of paper. The idea, however, was sharply denounced by the board’s Vice President David Badanes.
“I am really unhappy about any money being spent on board members for iPads,” Badanes said at the Oct. 8 board meeting. “I think it’s outrageous.”
Badanes, who was the lone naysayer, said he doesn’t have a problem with board members bringing their own iPads or electronic devices to meetings — he just doesn’t want the district to pay for them, he said.
According to District Clerk Beth Nystrom, there is currently no district policy that finances electronic devices for members of the school board’s use exclusively. She did say that board members are welcome to use district-owned electronic devices at board meetings, but presently none do.
Other board members said that while it may be fine for Badanes to have his own personal opinion, it’s not something he should hold everyone else to.
“Personal convictions are fine but each person should be given the right to decide,” Trustee Jennifer Thompson said. “It should not impugn the rest of us.”
Trustee Lori McCue said she felt it was unfair to tell board members who wanted to use an electronic device to bring one from home.
“I don’t know if it’s appropriate,” McCue said. “What if you don’t already own one of these devices?”
Stein claimed it’s more cost effective for the board to use electronic devices instead of getting paper agendas and other documents sent to their homes before each meeting.
“We spend nearly $800 worth of paper every year [on each board member],” Stein said. “If individuals want to embrace it, they’re saving $800 in taxpayer money.”
Stein said regular agendas are also not the only documents that are printed for board members every year.
“Based on 24 scheduled meetings per year, and an average of six specially called meetings plus the budget season, which can produce budget documents several times the size of a regular weekly package,” Stein said in an email. “The regular board member could receive anywhere from 22,000 pages during the course of a year.”
According to Nystrom, the cost is quite low to send board members paper agendas to their home annually.
“The approximate cost the district pays per board member to send printed copies of the agenda to their houses before meetings is approximately $35 per year,” Nystrom said in an email.
Board President Andrew Rapiejko encouraged board members to try and find the best way to serve the district.
“Everyone wants to do this job as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Rapiejko said. “They shouldn’t be criticized for trying to get the right tools. If the district can provide this tool, I think it should be discussed.”
Rapiejko also said that it is not for the board’s personal benefit to use these devices. “The district isn’t giving these out to board members,” Rapiejko said. “These are purchased for the district’s use.”
Trustee Regina Pisacani said she has been to other district board meetings where board members using electronic devices.
Rapiejko said the board could resume discussing this topic during budget season.