In many parts of the country, school districts and individual schools have been around decades or even centuries, and require significant space to store all those years' worth of student records and similar school-related documents. This can be costly and, when old files need to be pulled for any reason, difficult and time-consuming to track down.

For this reason and more, educational organizations across the U.S. are increasingly adopting document management platforms that allow them to bulk scan old files into digital systems to better fit their needs. That includes Pittsburgh Public Schools, which previously had documents dating back more than a century in 62 different buildings around the city, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"Digitizing documents only makes sense for districts feeling the need to free up space."

An easy decision
State law requires that permanent records be kept for at least 100 years, and digitizing documents of this type only made sense for a district increasingly feeling the need to free up physical space in its schools, the Post-Gazette noted. One district official estimated that there were "millions and millions and millions and millions of pieces of data" in the effort.

"As our district has gotten smaller in terms of physical buildings we support, the necessity to document these materials has absolutely intensified," Scott Gutowski, the district's chief technology officer, told the newspaper.

The effort to digitize at least some records started in 2013, and took several years to catch up to the current date, the report said. All told, the district had to keep not just transcripts and enrollment documents, but also class lists, diplomas and even copies of birth certificates.

Another benefit
Simply put, by digitizing documents, school districts put themselves in a strong position to save money. Cartridge World estimates that schools can use as many as 75 sheets of paper per classroom per day, and the average district may use as many as 28 million sheets each year. The cost for all that paper and ink adds up quickly – accounting for as much as 10% of a district's budget, or hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

With that in mind, there's a clear value in investing a fair amount of capital up-front into both document digitization and ongoing document management for any school district. Not only can there be a strong return on that investment over time, with minimal ongoing system maintenance costs, but also a greater ease of use and reduced need for storage space.