What does it really mean to go paperless at a school? We sat down with Virginia Allen, assistant business manager at The Pine School to find out.
“To go green, all it takes is commitment,” said Allen. The Pine School had good reasons to make that commitment. The 142-acre campus, the largest independent school campus in the state of Florida, is the site of historical and ecological significance. The school takes advantage of their location for environmental studies and outdoor class activities. A student-led Environmental Prefect Committee focuses on weekly recycling pick-ups, as well as a range of activities and events designed to promote green awareness. They also house a student-led garden that provides fresh produce for the dining hall’s daily salad bar.
Many schools aspire to similar environmental awareness initiatives, but things like paper records and the constant printing and copying of worksheets can muddy up the best of intentions. The Pine School knew they had to find new, innovative ways around old problems, especially after 40 years of using paper records and manually processing transactions. “Going paperless can’t be a business office thing or an admissions thing,” said Allen. “It has to be a process undertaken by the whole school.”
To that end, The Pine School has innovated their practices in nearly every area of the school, whether it meant moving to digital textbooks or allowing parents to make tuition payments online using FACTS. Their re-enrollment period, a time typically mired by stacks and stacks of paperwork, became streamlined through online re-enrollment packet submission. They also reduced paper by not mailing paper statements to parents and making delinquency reconciliation more efficient.
The Pine School has been certified as a Green School of Excellence since 2012. The award, given to a small number of schools that model exceptional environmental stewardship and sustainability, cited The Pine School’s initiatives in aggressive recycling, gardening, clothing/shoe donations, STEM reusable water collection, and more.
“If people are looking at going green from a cost standpoint, it’s less costly to work with FACTS than it would be to do it in house,” said Allen. “You’re crazy not to make the transition to FACTS. Save a tree. Heck, save a forest.”