Meetings to be taped and broadcast for public viewing
Video recording of the meetings was approved this month on a 4-2 vote. Recording may begin as soon as Tuesday, school board Chairman Wendell Jones said Friday.
The new policy came about at the urging of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. Several school board members, including Jones resisted the idea fearing that the school division budget couldn’t accommodate extra costs.
Jones said recording meetings “was low on my priority list.”
But the supervisors agreed to shoulder any costs associated with the recording and broadcast of the meetings, so Jones supported the change.
He was joined by board members Phyllis Albritton, Joe Ivers and Sarah Woolsey in voting yes. Members Penny Franklin and Drema Foster voted no. Jamie Bond was absent.
Since the board of supervisors already records and posts its meetings, board of supervisors Chairman Jim Politis said the equipment is available and set up in the room that both bodies share.
“We already have everything there to do it and that’s why we volunteered the service,” Politis said. “If they had to do it, they would have to hire staff and get their own equipment, which we wouldn’t ask them to do.”
Montgomery County public information director Ruth Richey said the only out-of-pocket cost will be the videographer.
In addition to being posted on Montgomery County’s YouTube site, Richey said the meetings – which will air after the actual live meetings – will be broadcast on Comcast Channel 190, the county’s government channel.
“We currently do not have the ability to do live broadcasts but hope to do this in the future,” Richey said.
Politis said the decision to record school board meetings was reached after the supervisors received numerous requests from constituents requesting access to taped meetings.
“A lot of people have a difficult time getting to school board meetings, a lot of people want the information that comes out of them, and now, they can watch it at their leisure,” Politis said.
The school board has also switched over to a paperless system for meeting documents and minutes. All public meeting information is posted on the school division website and is keyword searchable.
Blacksburg Town Council was the first elected body to broadcast its public meetings online. The council streams its bi-monthly business meeting live from the town website, and archives a year’s worth of recordings.
-Tonia Moxley and Melissa Powell, The Roanoke Times