Now that my youngest has graduated high school, there are many things I will miss about having kids in local public schools. And some I won’t – paper. Mounds and mounds of paper.

One Massachusetts mom recently undertook an experiment – to count every piece of paper her kids brought home over one school year. Meredith O’Brien, mom of a third grader and fifth grade twins, tallied 3,870 sheets sent home during the 2009-10 school year alone, including 1,500 during the final two weeks. Meeting announcements, athletic schedules, spelling lists, math worksheets, performance invitations…the list goes on. Her local school district has tried to become eco-friendly by using electronic communication more, but O’Brien says these notices were often followed by paper duplicates – one for each of her three kids.

Lake Highlands’ schools struggle with the same challenge, fearing that email blasts and notices on school websites won’t reach everyone. Some parents don’t get online often enough, and – in a neighborhood as economically diverse as ours – some don’t have access to home or office computers.

LH is unique in that “the mommy network” has worked to create email chains by class, enabling most school and neighborhood news to reach hundreds of people with the stroke of a key. School administrators have big email networks, like Karen Clardy’s Wildcat Weekly Email, the PTA produces an excellent online newsletter with links to valuable information, and the RISD uses School Times Now! to reach thousands of parents instantly. While these methods may not reach every mom and dad, I’d bet money they reach more than paper notices anyway. Another thing I won’t miss? Spending the first week of June digging out all the wrinkled-up school notices from the bottom of my son’s backpack.