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Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district’s environmental action plan starts with wasting less paper

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools looking to reduce number of printers and print jobs
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ staff members are working on a strategy to reduce paper consumption. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district hopes learning can happen with less wasted paper.

An environmental sustainability action plan, approved by the board in September, lists development of a policy to decrease paper usage as a goal. The school district enlisted the aid of a Konica Minolta representative last spring to conduct a survey of schools’ printer systems, and trustees were informed of the findings at the November business committee meeting.

The school district will purchase larger, multi-function printers that scan, photocopy and print, according to Mark Walsh, SD68 secretary-treasurer.

He said many of the district’s printers are coming to their “useful end” and a staff report noted that across the district there are 382 single-function printers, which are less energy-efficient and less economical due to costs of ink and maintenance. Cutting down to 278 printers and replacing current multi-function copiers with more efficient models would cut district monthly energy usage by 371 kilowatt-hours, which would come along with lower monthly energy costs and lower carbon emissions, the report said.

Walsh said the district will install software to limit instances of “ghost printing” when staff members don’t actually pick up their print jobs from the printer.

“What that means is individuals will have to get up and they will have to type in their number, otherwise the print job is never going to release,” he said.

An average of 1.5 million black-and-white pages and 44,000 colour pages are printed across schools in the district every month, stated the report. The software is estimated to reduce black-and-white pages printed by 21 per cent and colour pages by 47 per cent.

Trustee Tom Rokeby, former John Barsby Secondary School teacher, expressed concern as the transition away from paper highlights a “digital divide” in the district.

“I did notice as a teacher … that when we moved from paper to online report cards we did lose a lot of families and it’s not an easy thing for a family to navigate a new system,” he said. “It’s also not always an easy thing for them to reach out for help. I would often have families arriving at parent-teacher interviews that had not seen the report card yet and that was uncomfortable for them, so I’m hoping we can make sure that’s still not happening.”

Walsh said the district won’t completely do away with the old printers.

“Where those single-use [printers] are needed, like say there’s an individual with a disability that doesn’t have that mobility or [where it is] very inconvenient to get to the print machines that are available, we are of course going to accommodate that and so that number we’re talking about … may well tick up just a little bit higher than we’re proposing,” he said.

There will be consultation to address concerns and opportunities for the district to receive feedback, the report noted.

READ ALSO: SD68 chooses new chairpeople for board, committees

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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