LISTEN: Podcast With Chuck Werninger of the Houston Independent School District

Records manager believes in the power of print for learning



Christine Dunne


The Houston Independent School District has been ahead of the curve when it comes to issuing students laptops. At the same time, the district’s records officer favors print for students.


“I personally think ink and paper is probably better for the majority of the kids early on,” said Chuck Werninger, Senior Manager & Records Management Officer of IT Administrative Services. “It just isn’t as distractive, it’s more immersive, and the ability to doodle in the margins is really a sign the mind is engaging and working and learning, and that it is a huge part of the information retrieval process when it comes test time.”


Chuck Werninger of the Houston Independent School District


Granted, Werninger has a print background (he worked for his dad’s AlphaGraphics franchise, falling in love with the “geeky, nerdy side that made print really happen”). But he also sees how print helps children learn the key subjects, like math, reading, and spelling. It can level the playing field for student learning, especially among students who might not have access to WiFi, printers or even electricity to charge a laptop battery.


“So print, yeah, it has a way of evening the bar and it doesn’t know gender, it doesn’t know age, it doesn’t know preference or orientation, it doesn’t know income, status, color…all it knows is communication, and it’s effective universally,” Werninger said.


While the district (the seventh largest in the United States) has certainly been moving in the direction of digitization, the reality is that it still generates 450 million prints from 1,250 multifunction devices as well as production print equipment each year. And it’s continually coming up with new uses for print, including personalized, inkjet-sprayed letters to parents, and colorful outdoor signs reminding families to register for pre-k and kindergarten—all 4,400 of which are unique.


Werninger is hopeful print will maintain its importance in the district, which appears to be the largest school district printing operation in the United States (due to larger districts outsourcing a large portion of their print). This includes its two post offices, one of which also contains a production print facility.


Hear more from this champion of print below!