Videotaping local school board meetings is not a new concept in Palatine. Community Consolidated School District 15 has been broadcasting its regular meetings on local cable stations since 2006 and recently began posting them on their website.
Residents in other school districts have not been as lucky.
Only after taking it upon themselves to tape board meetings and post them online did Park Ridge-Niles District 64 officials concede that it was a worthwhile endeavor. Other districts agree and have followed the growing trend in the northwest suburbs.
Now Township High School District 211 board members have the opportunity to express their opinions on the subject. At their Sept. 7 meeting, the Board directed the superintendent to place on the agenda for tonight's meeting a "discussion of matters associated with the broadcasting of Board of Education meetings."
To assist in that discussion, the district compiled information surrounding various aspects associated with the prospect of videotaping the meetings. It includes a survey of other school districts, technical support considerations and cost estimates.
Questions to consider and discuss also have been included in the report. Among them are the advantages and disadvantages of broadcasting meetings as well as whether a Board policy is needed to address protocols.
Of course the legality of audio or videotaping school board meetings is not up for discussion. The Illinois Open Meetings Act clearly provides that "any person may record the proceedings at meetings required to be open by this Act by tape, film or other means."
But D-211 is not legally required to videotape the proceedings much less make them available on cable stations, the Internet or even a DVD to be loaned out to the public. Instead they do post detailed recaps within a few days of the meeting as well as official minutes on their website.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of broadcasting board meetings? Depends on your perspective I imagine. As a D-211 parent I found recent administrative presentations on a proposed change to the grading system and teacher evaluations very informative
How simple would it be to videotape these monthly presentations and post them on YouTube? They generally run less than twenty minutes.
In fact at tonight's meeting teachers from the Applied Technology departments at Palatine, Fremd and Conant High Schools are presenting an overview of the curriculum and opportunities presented to students as a result of D-211's partnership with Project Lead the Way, a pre-college engineering program. The same program is being considered by D-15 with encouragement from D-211.
Wouldn't it be advantageous for both districts to disseminate this information as widely as possible? What better way than to videotape, post it online and promote its success to the community?
D-211 board members certainly have much to discuss tonight. Unfortunately I cannot be there to listen as they debate the question - to videotape or not to videotape?
Maybe someone with a video camera can attend and get the footage online. It is easy enough to do.
All D-211 board meetings are held in the Anne Koller Board of Education meeting room at the G.A. McElroy Administration Center beginning at 7:30 p.m. The center is located at 1750 South Roselle Road in Palatine across from Harper College.