School board to televise sessions

Live broadcasts, reruns planned for Channel 21

Practice run next month

January 16, 2001|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Beginning in March, Carroll Board of Education will bring its monthly meetings into the living rooms of county residents.

The sessions will be televised live on Channel 21, the local education cable station, and rerun throughout the month.

"I've always encouraged this because we want to have more people have access to the board meetings without having to come" to Westminster, said board President Susan W. Krebs. "It's unrealistic to think that the entire county is going to come visit a board meeting, so we'll go visit them."

Krebs said the idea has been in the works for about a year. The board, however, has never discussed in public session the prospect of televising its meetings.

For about two years before the school system moved its administrative offices to North Court Street, school spokeswoman Carey Gaddis and television production specialist Pat Flaherty produced a 30-minute program of highlights from the typically hours-long board meetings.

"Our concern with the highlights show was that we were picking and choosing," Gaddis said. "We didn't show citizen participation because we didn't want to show one citizen and not another.

"The whole time we were doing that, we were thinking, `Why not just show the whole meeting?' It would almost be as easy as writing the script and showing the clips to just show the whole meeting."

Moving into the new central office building gave the school sys tem the capability to broadcast meetings live because the offices of Channel 21 are directly above the board meeting room.

Busy with other things, Gaddis and Flaherty never had a chance to pursue it- until the fall, when they approached interim Superintendent Charles I. Ecker about televising the meetings.

"Dr. Ecker is so community-oriented that we thought this was the time to try and do this," Gaddis said.

The five-member school board gave the go-ahead, and Ecker budgeted the $2,000 needed to wire the board room for the live telecasts.

Gaddis said the broadcasts fit well with Ecker's efforts to reach out to the community and make the school system as accessible as possible. He has begun a citizens' roundtable group and makes regular visits to the county's 38 schools.

"When we talked to him about the idea, one of the things we discussed is that in this day and age, it's hard for parents with children to come to a board meeting," she said. "If there's something of interest on the agenda, this is a way for them to see what takes place."

The meeting next month will be a practice run for Gaddis and Flaherty. The session will be filmed as if it were being broadcast live - without transmitting the program - to work out logistics and ensure the equipment works.

Gaddis also joked that they will "be bringing in makeup artists and hairstylists" to prepare board members for their first close-ups.

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