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South Salem conserves paper, funds with green initiative

COVINGTON - South Salem Elementary School isn't letting the fact that it is only in its first year of operation hold them back from being a trailblazing organization.

Earlier this year, the school launched its Go Green e-mail project - instead of sending home printed announcements, fliers and other papers to parents on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis, the school is sending that communication to parents via

e-mail.

"It makes all of the sense in the world," school Principal Holly Dubois said.

She said School Messenger, an automated calling program that also sends out e-mails, can transmit e-mails to the entire school, particular grade levels and individual classes.

Dubois introduced the school to this idea in the fall after her children's school in Henry County started a similar push.

"You're getting the word out ... and can get an immediate response," Dubois said.

At first she shared the idea with a school leadership team and later introduced the idea to the parents, saying that she would move forward with the idea if at least 75 percent of the parents had access to e-mail.

So far, more than 80 percent of South Salem's parents have e-mail accounts and more add them every day, Dubois said.

"They love it," she said. "It helps them be better organized ... and it's a constant reminder."

Since implementing the program in early February, the school has saved at least $300 in paper, ink and other copying costs.

"That stuff eats up a lot of a school's budget," Dubois said. "That's money we could be using on other things."

Although it took some time to input every parent's e-mail address into the program and sometimes e-mail addresses need to be added or changed, the new program has saved even more time from many people's schedules.

"It is a huge time saver," Dubois said. "It only takes a few minutes to send out an e-mail, but it can take up to an hour to run 900 copies, sort them by grade level and classes, deliver them to teachers and then distribute them to students' folders."

The program also will notify senders if an e-mail address does not receive the sent message, so school personnel can send home the announcement or ask the parents about a change in address.

Previously, students would take home folders on Fridays, but Dubois said this allows parents to get notices every day and not risk losing any papers. Parents with no e-mail access still get their weekly announcements in Friday's folder and some other materials also might be necessary to send home, instead of through e-mail.

Dubois said she hopes other schools latch onto the idea.

"It's not as complicated as I thought it would be," she said. "And it's certainly a huge time and money saver."

Elementary schools in the Newton County School System also are participating in Styrofoam lunch tray recycling, among other projects, to help its school system be more environmentally friendly.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.