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Thornton Fractional high schools debate shredding of decades worth of student transcripts

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CALUMET CITY | If you were a student of T.F North or T.F. South high schools in the past six decades, your old - and in many cases, yellowing - transcript sits in one of 35 boxes being kept in a storage locker.

The Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215 Board pays $150 per month to store those old files.

Now that district officials have scanned those transcripts into a computer system, they believe it may be time to get rid of the paper documents.

But the idea of destroying "permanent records" had some School Board members wary. The board decided Tuesday to postpone for a month or two any decision.

"I'm kind of 'old school' on this," School Board member Lee Ann Revis said. Board member Roger Yochem asked whether it would be possible to create a physical "backup" for the records.

Even District 215 Superintendent Creg Williams said he's reluctant to see the old transcripts go, even though the school district has followed procedure in seeking permission from the Illinois State Board of Education to destroy old records.

Illinois law requires school districts to maintain transcripts for at least 60 years, and Williams said the district has all transcripts for North and South students dating to the early 1960s.

But because the district can show it has the information stored on computer, it has received permission from the state Education Board to destroy the paper records.

District Finance Director Charles DiMartino said the state approved the destruction earlier this year, and a 90-day waiting period required by state law also has expired.

That means district officials can run the transcripts through a shredder if they desire, which would save a monthly public storage facility fee. Williams would not identify which south suburban facility has those thousands of transcripts locked away.

"We'll pay it for another month or two until we make up our minds," Williams said.

DiMartino said he is confident the records will be destroyed soon because various tests have shown the computer system to be safe and reliable. "We believe we can find them when we need them," he said.

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