Jefferson County Public Schools may soon begin streaming its board meetings online, an initiative under contemplation for the past two years.
The idea of streaming board meetings has been brought up on occasion by parents and residents unable or unwilling to attend the Monday meetings that are held regularly every couple weeks (in some cases more or less).
The district—through its contract with cable television provider Time Warner—broadcasts the meetings on television, but many government agencies like Louisville Metro Government are now offering more content on the Web.
The district has been considering the most cost efficient ways to stream its meetings for a couple of years, JCPS spokesman Ben Jackey says. He says the district is interested in offering the online streaming option to improve transparency and accountability to the public.
“We think it’s important to give parents as many options as possible to understand the functions of the board and what they do to improve student achievement,” he says.
Jackey says there are still details to work out, including the cost, which he expects to be minimal. However the district is not yet clear if Time Warner or another company will carry the stream. The annual contract with Time Warner is reportedly up this summer, at which point the district may decide to add the streaming function to the renewed contract.
Jackey says there hasn’t been a large push from the public to live stream board meetings, but he says if it’s offered it may catch on.
“We feel like if we give them that option and put it out there more people will access it that maybe don’t want to sit down and watch it on TV, don’t have the time to sit down and watch it on TV,” he says.
When Louisville Metro Government announced it would move to live streaming city meetings on mobile devices last week, JCPS District 2 board member David Jones Jr. responded on Twitter, asking when JCPS would follow.
When asked by WFPL what board members thought of the idea, Jones wrote:
I think streaming the board meetings is a good idea. The meetings are open to the public, and they are already televised. Streaming via web seems to me a logical extension of the philosophy of making it as easy as possible for the public to exercise its right to be present at the meetings. Also might be useful to store the video images so voters can watch them on their own schedule, rather than only live.
JCPS District 3 board member Debbie Wesslund and District 5 board member Linda Duncan also support the idea as long as it’s not cost prohibitive.
Metro Government offers a live stream of press conferences with just the use of a laptop, according to officials. The cost to the city to offer live streaming on smart phones was an initial $2,800 to develop the app, and a $700 annual fee to carry the stream.
Jackey says if everything goes well over the next few months, the first school board meeting of the new school year could be up online.