School board may televise meetings

Three proposals for airing sessions on county cable

Anne Arundel

November 06, 2003|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education started examining yesterday whether to leap into the television age - something half of Maryland's school boards have done.

School officials presented to the board three ways it could record and broadcast the twice-a-month sessions on the county's cable channel. The methods vary from a $7,500 system with a manually operated camera to a $100,000 system with stage lighting and three remote-controlled cameras.

All other school boards in the Baltimore region televise their meetings. Baltimore City and Howard, Carroll and Harford counties broadcast live, and Baltimore County televises its meetings later, according to Anne Arundel officials.

Several board members said they support using television to reach people who cannot attend meetings, but warned that the school system may not be able to afford it now.

"If we do it, we've got to do it right," said board member Michael J. McNelly, adding that he would rule out the least expensive, one-camera option.

`Wise investment'

But board member Eugene Peterson said he favored televising the meetings as soon as possible. "I think doing this now, when we need to build public support for the school system and what we're doing, is probably a wise investment of money," he said.

It is unclear when the board would take action on the matter.

The school board offers three options for people to learn what happened at a meeting: an audio recording; a brief summary of each meeting posted on the school system's online newsletter within a week; and minutes of the meeting posted about two weeks later, after the board reviews and approves them.

Easier to participate

Community members say televised meetings would make it more convenient for them to participate in the board's decision-making process. Some people say they have to take off from work to attend the board's daytime meetings, held on the first Wednesday of the month. Others say the nighttime meetings, held on third Wednesdays, are inconvenient.

Severna Park parent Terra Snider would have welcomed a TV broadcast of yesterday's meeting.

She had stopped by the afternoon session to hear the proposal about televised meetings but had to leave two hours later - before the board got to the agenda item.

"I've got a violin lesson, Cub Scouts, Teen Court and a ballet lesson," Snider said as she hurried out of the board's Annapolis headquarters to pick up her three children.

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