tame that tiger...

Southborough mom follows paper trail

By Evan Lips/Daily News staff

The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Jul 08, 2010 @ 12:00 AM

A local mom wanted to find out exactly how much paper is toted home from school by her three children, so she saved every work sheet, permission slip, band notice and announcement that was handed out during the 2009-2010 school year.

More than 3,800 pieces of paper later, Meredith O'Brien got her answer.

"I like hearing about things going on at the schools, but from a realistic perspective, I could not get a handle on these papers," she said yesterday.

O'Brien, who tracked the results of her paper-counting quest on a blog hosted by Wicked Local Parents, said she started the school year with a plan. She bought three large color-coded binders and a magazine rack from Pottery Barn to organize her kids' papers.

"It initially worked, but there would come a point when the system would go kablooey," she said. "My kids would say I forgot about a permission slip or I'd miss a soccer deadline."

"This is not meant to be an attack on the schools, but I do think some of the more important paperwork, like permission slips, should be prioritized."

O'Brien said she previously blogged about the amount of paper trucked home by her three kids - a third-grader at Woodward Elementary School and two fifth-graders at Neary Elementary School.

"I'd whine about it on my blog, but this year I made up my mind to put some data behind it," she said. "I decided I'd keep everything, stack it, chronicle it and categorize it as best I could."

The results were skewed from month-to-month as more than 1,500 pages of paper came home during the last two weeks of school.

Other observations, such as the two 14-page brochures sent from the state regarding flu season and the 500 pages handed out by Neary School officials, did not surprise O'Brien.

"If there was any way to make this information more electronic, I'd be all for it," she said. "The schools have put out a weekly electronic newsletter, but I know that doesn't work for everyone."

While Wicked Local Parents has ceased operations, O'Brien continues to blog on her personal site. Curious parents can read more about O'Brien's paper trail at www.picketfencepost.blogspot.com.

(Evan Lips can be reached at 508-490-7461 or elips@cnc.com.)
Copyright 2010 The MetroWest Daily News. Some rights reserved

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